Hustle & Flow (2005)
First-time writer-director Craig Brewer takes a stale formula - 'the no-good hood who done good' - gives it grit and gives it air. He has Terrence Howard playing a pimp who's got a dream (cuz everybody gotta have a dream!) to be a hip hop star, and he pitches him against a Memphis-ghetto backdrop that may or may not be authentic but for the purposes of the story is entirely convincing. He doesn't skip many of the clichés but he zooms through them with such energy that the movie leaves you feeling satisfied for quite some time before the nasty notion kicks in that you've just participated in the glorification of a pimp as a misunderstood genius.
wr/dir: Craig Brewer
cast: Terrence Howard, Taryn Manning, Taraji P. Henson, Anthony Anderson, D.J. Qualls, Ludacris, Paula Jai Parker, Elise Neal, Isaac Hayes