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'Biggie and Tupac'

No scores are settled in 'Biggie and Tupac' film

Friday, March 07, 2003

BY ED MASLEY, POST-GAZETTE POP MUSIC CRITIC

For a guy who was able to make a full-length documentary on the "unsolved mystery" of who shot Kurt Cobain, the greatest unsolved homicide on Planet Hollywood since O.J. vowed to bring Nicole's real killer in for questioning, making the movie "Biggie and Tupac" had to be a breeze.

 
 
'BIGGIE AND TUPAC'

RATING: R for language

DIRECTOR: Nick Broomfield

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But the fact that he's chasing an actual story here is only one of several reasons director Nick Broomfield's return to the muckraking circuit is easier to watch than "Kurt and Courtney."

This time around, he was actually able to secure the rights for music and video clips of both Tupac and Biggie doing what they did that made the world outside their inner circle care about their murders. While that may not read like the sort of distinction that places a film in the running for an Oscar, it does give Broomfield's latest money-grab a sense of context sadly lacking in the other documentary while providing fans an opportunity to see their heroes rock the mike, including classic early footage of street-corner rapping from Biggie.

Broomfield has also gotten to a higher caliber of player here, from Suge Knight to an ex-detective from the LAPD who resigned after 18 years on the force when his efforts to investigate fellow officers he believed to be linked to the murders were squashed.

But in the end, this documentary suffers from a number of the flaws -- mostly character flaws -- that made his other movie so unbearable.

The sensationalism is practically camp, although to Broomfield's credit, he keeps his conspiracy theories as to Courtney Love's involvement in the murders off the record. Furthermore, he's still too eager to document his own misguided making of the documentary, to the point of harassing a passing cop just to get a reaction that fits his own self-image as a troublemaker and/or "serious" reporter.

Please. I only wish he'd tried that same approach on Suge Knight in his prison interview.

For all the amateurish qualities he brings to the art of the documentary, though, the story itself is fascinating.

Now, if only someone good could make a documentary out of it.

Ed Masley can be reached at emasley@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1865.

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