Eye For Film >> Movies >> Biggie And Tupac (2002) Film Review
Biggie And Tupac
Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray
Nick Broomfield has a distinctive style of documentary making. He chooses a controversial subject - sadomasochists, serial killers, right-wing bigots - and wanders about in the vicinity of where they live or work, looking lost and inoffensive, with a socking great microphone in his hand. The movies are as much about him trying to find a story as they are about the subject.
Biggie And Tupac is no exception. Broomfield drives around LA - endless shots of the road through the windscreen. "Biggie lived in this house," he explains. The car slows down. "This is Biggie's mum, Valetta." Valetta says hello. He goes to a convenience store and talks to a man who packed bags with Biggie.
Tupac Shakur had star quality. His mother was a crack addict and an ex-Black Panther. His father left when he was six. He lived in New York, Baltimore and California. As a rapper, he was responsible for $80million worth of sales one year. As an actor, he was beginning to make an impact. He had the looks, the style, the energy and the hunger. Nothing could stop him, it seemed, until one evening in Las Vegas, after a Mike Tyson fight, he was gunned down in his limo. No one has been charged with the killing.
Biggie Smalls was a friend of Tupac's, another phenomenally successful rapper. The word on the street is that Biggie and Tupac fell out and Biggie arranged Tupac's murder. Biggie denied it. Six months later, he, too, was shot in his limo. No one was arrested.
What interested Broomfield was not the dead singers so much as the conspiracy theories surrounding their passing. Did the FBI infiltrate the rap scene and cause dissent because it had become too powerful? Did corrupt LAPD cops shoot Biggie and Tupac, as part of a company war? Is the real villain Suge Knight, boss of the record label Death Row?
This is a genuine whodunit. Broomfield talks to cops. They don't tell him much. A couple enjoyed sex orgies and cocaine parties and the high life. Does that prove them guilty?
He talks to big black men in the hip-hop music biz, who make him nervous. He goes into prison ("The cameraman had the abdabs") to interview the much feared Suge Knight, who is polite and tells him nothing.
With a story as bizarre and mysterious as this, you don't want to be worrying about whether the ineffectual Broomfield is going to have the courage to knock on that door when there are hit men at large and a cover up waiting to be exposed. He knocks on the door, goes in, learns very little and comes out again. Earlier, he was wandering the streets, stopping strangers.
"Excuse me, we're making a film in the area." He is apologetic. "Did you know Biggie Smalls?"
Yer wot?Reviewed on: 18 Jul 2002
If you like this, try:Notorious