Midnight Madness

Bodied

Joseph Kahn

Bodied 01

A satirical exploration of the world's most artistically brutal sport — battle rapping — from music video director Joseph Kahn, based on a script by Toronto rapper Alex Larsen (Kid Twist) and produced by Eminem.

Many filmmakers imbue their work with a pop sensibility, but few are as literate in the language of pop culture as Joseph Kahn. Responsible for some of the most indelible music videos of the past 20-plus years, Kahn has greatly influenced contemporary pop aesthetics. With his underappreciated narrative films, meanwhile (particularly the sensational high-school slasher spoof Detention), he has also established himself as one of cinema's most potent satirists. Now, with Bodied, the Total Request Live auteur graduates his satirical sights to a provocative powder keg: a racial satire about the art of battle rap.

Penned by celebrated Toronto battle rapper Alex Larsen (a.k.a. Kid Twist), the film assumes the perspective of Adam (Calum Worthy), a white, purportedly progressive graduate student who infiltrates a community of diverse battle rappers for the sake of an edgy thesis. Before long he develops his own predilection for skilfully slinging rhymed insults and epithets as a competitive poet, and Kahn plays out the premise like a twitchy funhouse mirror of 8 Mile, cleverly subverting the Eminem vehicle's trajectory to a sardonic and sobering effect. The result also functions as a cultural mirror, one that invites you to laugh, gasp, and most importantly — perhaps most damningly — to invite recognition.

Midnight Madness has always been a showcase for subcultures and the art they cultivate, particularly art that transgresses, challenges, and electrifies. Bodied achieves all three and drops the mic like a boss.

PETER KUPLOWSKY

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