In his to-be-legendary pan of Revenge of the Sith, Anthony Lane accused George Lucas of pursuing “a terrible puritan dream”. By Sith, the zenith of the six-film series, Lucas has perfected his vision of a world devoid of corporeal realities and sensory compulsions: the various protagonists that populate Sith’s various planets don’t just don’t have appetites for sex, drugs, rock and roll, profanity or virtually anything else that makes an average human life a little bit more worth living. And, with the exception of Mr. And Mrs. Smith, a film that’s so indulgent in its “ironic” hedonism that it’s worth wondering at points whether or not it's even joking, most of the summer’s few hits traffic in comparable denial of guttural desires. So read the New York Times’ rating advisory on one of the top five films to be released thus far this year: "War of the Worlds is rated PG-13. Much of the earth's population is wiped out, leaving very little time for sex or bad language."
And so MTV and Paramount Classics have been pushing Craig Brewer’s Hustle and Flow as a feel-good, follow-your-dream, Horatio Alger story – essentially, Rocky in the key of crunk. And whilst recent history might suggest to their marketing people that this is the most prudent move, I’m not sure it’s all that necessary. I get the feeling that if Hustle and Flow is going to be a powerful cultural phenomena over the next few months (and I’m betting that it will be), it’s essentially going to be a case of a film that revels in the spirit of balls-out intemperance enacting an overdue revenge.