Not even a mutant can be powerful forever. Logan aka Wolverine is dealing with the effects that old age are having on his ability to heal, namely the fact that his skin now scars easily and he's constantly in pain. Professor Charles Xavier is also suffering; Alzheimer's has taken over his mind, destroying his memories. But the pair don't even have the X-Men to take care of them anymore, as a new supervillain by the name of Nathaniel Essex with his Essex Corporation is destroying the world as we know it. Logan and Xavier's only chance of defeating Essex lies with a young girl named Laura Kinney who is an exact genetic clone of Wolverine in female form.
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Until recently, Howard has been one of American film's mostly unnoticed gems. A journeyman actor since the early '90s, he came into his own in Malcolm Lee's romantic comedy The Best Man, in which he served as the sleepy-eyed provocateur, wisely watching all the fools who surrounded him, goading them into fury by slyly undercutting their fantasies with his keenly observed truths. It was one of that year's great performances, but being mired in such a conventional work (not to mention being in a black film aimed at black audiences, and thus mostly invisible to the critical establishment), he never received his due. He's worked steadily since then, coming into his own with this year's Crash - turning in an open wound of a performance that stood out even in that film's excellent ensemble. In Hustle & Flow, he's found a role that puts him in the spotlight, and he grabs the role tight with both hands, though never so showily as to make you notice how hard he's really working.
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Our protagonist is the restaurant's bartender, Chris Calloway (Adrien Brody - Summer of Sam, Six Ways to Sunday), a struggling playwright weaving his real life problems into his first play -- a work in progress that he can't seem to finish. When he meets the newest waitress Jeanine (Elise Neal - Mission to Mars) and they hit it off, he's faced with his second interracial relationship (the first being Lauryn Hill, who we see mostly as a picture on the refrigerator). Chris can't figure out why he likes black women so much, especially after his Italian father raised him to be a bigot. This dilemma is portrayed in his unfinished play, which is the story of a white man that can't deal with the external pressures of having a black girlfriend, even though he's madly in love. As he tries to make sense of his feelings, he gets caught up in the past when his ex (Hill) shows up at a friend's wedding. Because his relationship with her ended on such a bizarre note, he can't put it behind him, which prevents him from devoting his heart to Jeanine, and finally, thwarts him from finishing the play. Whew!
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The familiar story told in "Paid In Full," the story of a good ghetto kid seduced into the drug trade with tragic results, covers no new territory. But it's a story told so well -- with veracity, raw compassion, well-drawn characters and strong performances -- that its common cautionary tale feels as compelling as it might have been in the 1980s, when the film takes place and before this type of movie became its own genre.
"Paid" plays as if it were made by people who lived it. People like Ace (Wood Harris), a reticent clerk at a neighborhood dry cleaners who has always been happy to blend into the woodwork and just be a survivor, even as he sees his closest friends becoming flush with cash, clothes and cool cars."That ain't my flow, man," Ace says when his best friend Mitch (Mekhi Phifer) tries to lure him into his small-time drug empire.
But as temptations mount (a local Colombian cartel middleman leaves him a cocaine "tip" in a jacket pocket at the cleaners), power becomes attractive (he'd like to get his sister away from her pimp-dealer boyfriend) and opportunities present themselves (Mitch gets arrested, leaving his street business up for grabs). Ace succumbs, in small increments, to the enticements of what seems like an effortless road to living well.
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Not even a mutant can be powerful forever. Logan aka Wolverine is dealing with the...
As is duly noted in the chorus of the catchiest of the songs used in...
They might as well have called this movie J. T. McClure's, which is the name...
The familiar story told in "Paid In Full," the story of a good ghetto kid...