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Rated 3.05 stars
by 931 people

ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Rapper's Delight
by Adam Hakari

Music and movies seem to go together like bread and butter. The great musicals of the past have transported audiences to a more toe-tapping reflection of their own worlds while  concert films like Neil Young: Heart of Gold have given viewers a closer look into the lives of the musicians performing. And then there's Awesome: I...Shot That!, which shows how weird it can get when you set cinema to a hip-hop beat.

To mark the Madison Square Garden stop on their tour in October of 2004, rap icons the Beastie Boys decided to do something a little special. In one of the more inventive steps of recent filmmaking years, the Boys (comprised of bandmates Michael "Mike D" Diamond, Adam "MCA" Yauch, and Adam "Adrock" Horovitz), handed fifty Hi-8 camcorders to fifty different audience members, combining these with their own system of surveillance cameras to capture just about every possible aspect of the show. And capture it they do, as the Beastie Boys proceed to put on a performance that resonates with the infectious beats and quirky rhymes they've become famous for, serving up a memorable performance dazzlingly captured from just about every angle.

Most concert films lean their focus more upon the music, crafting their visual scheme around the mindset of making the performers look good while doing what they do best. Awesome: I...Shot That! (whose elipses are explained by the film's actual, more profane title), on the other hand, is dead-set on recreating the chaotic atmosphere of being at a concert more than it's concerned with viewers walking away while singing a happy tune. Such an approach was attempted in the '70s with D.A. Pennebaker's David Bowie concert movie Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, which ended up as a grungy, erratic flick that looked as if it were being filmed from some of the worst seats in the house. But director Yauch (going under the name "Nathanial Hornblower") creates a visually arresting picture out of the footage shot here, using every editing technique and trick in the book to keep the film's energy level up and moving at a nonstop pace -- and, miraculously, not a moment grows the slightest bit old or tiring.

Part of the fun in watching Awesome: I...Shot That! is in wondering what you're going to see next; the camera zooms in on the very grain of the wood on a guitar, one of the Boys rockets into the sky, and entire songs are performed in negative exposure, just a few of the many ways the Beastie Boys keep the viewer's eyes occupied and entertained.

As for the ears, the songs tend to bleed together and sound a tad indistinctive from one another (one of the few detractions of an otherwise outstanding film), but the Beastie Boys' collective spirit and offbeat demeanor make the beats feel fresh, lively, and catchy. Some may see the Boys as just a trio of white guys rapping in track suits (although they take a break and don ruffled tuxedos as they masquerade as what can only be described as a high school prom band), but what can't be denied is their ability to put on one insanely ingenious and entertaining show.

I admit being only a casual fan of the Beastie Boys before watching Awesome: I...Shot That! But once the film began with the same opening text crawl and music from Brian De Palma's Scarface, I smiled with the assurance that I was in for a good time. Now I'm proud to sit back, look upon the  exhuberant entry of the Beastie Boys into concert cinema, and say, "Awesome...I saw that."

MY RATING: *** 1/2 (out of ****)

(Released by Velocity/ThinkFilm and rated "R" for language.)

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