Leonardo DiCaprio

Sports and celebrities have always been intertwined; all athletes want to be celebrities, and all celebrities want to be athletes.  Most superstars satisfy these desires by following their favorite teams, wearing their jerseys, and cheering at games. From Spike Lee to Jack Nicholson, Leonardo DiCaprio to President Obama, famous people everywhere bleed their team’s colors.

This holds especially true with rappers. Something about the rap industry brings out the true fandom in these performers, and it often carries over into their work. Here is a list of the top ten rappers who are defined by their teams.

10. Usher – Cleveland Cavaliers (NBA)

Although it is unknown to even many Cavs diehards, Usher has been a fan since he became a part owner in 2005. Usher attended nearly every game the first year, but once the initial thrill wore off, fans stopped seeing him at the stadium. Rumors swirled that Usher was unable to pay his $50 million stake in the team, but as of today he remains a minority owner.

9. Drake – Toronto Raptors (NBA)

Although he can be regularly found at the club with NBA stars, from Lebron James to Chris Paul, the Canadian-born Drake is a fan of Canada’s only NBA team, the Raptors.  The rap game’s representative of the Great White North is pretty serious about his dedication to this team. He once said, “I am a Raptors fan to the death.”

8. Snoop Dogg – USC (NCAA Football)

While Snoop has several other professional fan allegiances, his true devotion lies with the cardinal and gold. He can often be found wearing his Trojan jersey at the Coliseum on game day. Athleticism even runs in his family; his son, Cordell Broadus, is a four-star wide receiver recruit with scholarship offers from ten schools, including USC.  If his dad has any say, his decision will be obvious.

7. Eminem – Detroit sports

Eminem grew up in and was molded by Detroit, and he has repaid the city as fan for a while. In the video for his new single Berzerk, Em can be seen rocking a shirt commemorating the late ‘80’s bad boys Pistons teams.

Slim Shady also discussed his Lions fandom in classic Eminem style during this recent bizarre interview during the Michigan vs. Notre Dame football game.

6. 2 Chainz – Atlanta Hawks (NBA)

Born Tauheed Epps in Atlanta, the 6’5” rapper now known as 2 Chainz has an athletic past. He received a scholarship to play D1 ball at Alabama State, where he played one season before he found his calling and joined the rap game. On his dunk at the end of this video, it seems as though 2 Chainz had a sense of flair on the court as well.

In Kanye West’s song The One, Mr. Chainz name-drops his favorite team, describing “sittin’ courtside at the Hawks game” before going on to explain that he is close enough to the action to trip a player with his Louis Vuitton shoes.

We love you, 2 Chainz. Never change.

Stay tuned for the second half of this list, coming next week.

Review

In this film image released by Paramount Pictures, Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, left, are shown in a scene from the 3-D version of James Cameron’s romantic epic “Titanic.” (Photo courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox)

There’s no denying that “Titanic” was a genuine cultural phenomenon when it hit theaters, spending a staggering 15 weeks at the top of the box office, and setting records left and right. Even so, it’s a film that our generation didn’t really get a chance to see in theaters. My first memory of the film was watching it in a hotel room with my parents and really only paying attention to the part where the ship goes down. For that reason alone, re-releasing “Titanic” is a solid idea to show the landmark cinematic event to a new generation of youngsters, even if the film’s 3D reconversion is a mostly perfunctory excuse to get it into theaters again.

“Titanic” is an epic of the highest caliber, and James Cameron directs it with a real elegance, treating the story’s inherent tragedy respectfully while also making it massively entertaining in its own way. The story of Jack and Rose has been parodied and referenced so much that one might think it’s become diluted at this point. Thankfully, it’s still sweeping and genuinely romantic, mostly thanks to the pitch-perfect casting of Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet.

Both of these actors had solid careers up to this point, but nothing like this, and going back to “Titanic,” they both look so young and eager to please. There’s an honesty and heart to their performances that’s surprising. DiCaprio in particular has aged into a very different kind of performer, full of hard edges and aggressive characters, but here, he’s full of infectious joy for everything life throws at him, and the chemistry he has with Winslet is a huge reason why the film works.

A lot of us (myself included) grew up watching the film in a two tape VHS box set, and that makes it even easier to detect when the film shifts from charming romance to epic tragedy, right around the time Jack sketches Rose in one of many famous scenes. Cameron handles both halves of the film wonderfully, and his staging of the Titanic’s demise is disaster filmmaking at its absolute best. Tales of the grueling, six month shoot have become notorious, but this is Cameron showing mastery of his craft. Even as this unimaginably massive ship goes into the ocean, Cameron excels at finding the small, human moments, and he gives each member of his enormous supporting cast a chance to stand out.

But that’s enough about “Titanic.” Let’s talk about the 3D. Obviously, the huge draw for this re-release was the 3D conversion, and while that will certainly translate into healthy box office numbers, it’s completely inessential. Sure, the 3D is impressive enough, but watching “Titanic” in a third dimension doesn’t add anything to the film. In fact, with such a lengthy film, 3D can almost be a detriment, as the human eye can only take so much 3D before it starts to wear out, a boundary that “Titanic” comes dangerously close to crossing. It would have been enough to put “Titanic” back into theaters on the 100th anniversary of the ship’s sinking, and people still would have come out in droves to see DiCaprio and Winslet on the big screen once again.

The chance to see these huge, culture-defining films on the big screen is undeniably appealing. Films like “Titanic” and “Star Wars” are cornerstones of pop culture for a reason, and 1997 sure was a long time ago. Scenes like Jack and Rose’s moment on the ship’s bow or the ship’s final, hellish descent into the water lose some of their impact when viewed on a television, and that irritatingly catchy Celine Dion song is even more effective at drilling its way into your psyche on the big screen. But even more than that, the theatrical experience is unquestionably the best way to watch a film, and that alone makes these re-releases a valiant effort.

As useless as 3D is, I almost hope this trend of re-releasing classic films continues, with or without a post-conversion. I would jump at the chance to see something like “Goodfellas” or “Raiders of the Lost Ark” in theaters, and if I have to shell out a few extra dollars for some glasses that don’t really enhance the film that much, that’s a price I’m willing to pay.

Printed on Friday, April 6, 2012 as: Titanic deserves cinema re-watching despite 3D excess

Visionary writer-director Christopher Nolan makes his return to cinema for the first time since “The Dark Knight” with “Inception,” a refreshingly intricate and visually stimulating alternative to the prequels, sequels and slapstick comedies that constitute this summer’s lineup.

In “Inception,” Nolan creates a dream world. Dom Cobb, played with great emotional depth and ferocity by Leonardo DiCaprio, makes his living by invading the subconscious of slumbering citizens.

Mr. Saito (Ken Watanabe) hires Cobb and his crew to do his corporation’s dirty work and carry out a dangerous mission: to plant an idea in someone’s mind. This is to be performed on the son of a dying industrialist, Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy). While on the job, Cobb is filled with formidable memories of Mal (Marion Cotillard), his wife and the mother of his two children. Dom, in every sense of the word, cannot get Mal out of his head. Mal is a pivotal character in the film and provides the foundation for Cobb’s internal struggles.

The charming Joseph Gordon–Levitt plays Dom’s right-hand man, Arthur. Tom Hardy plays Eames, the “crook” of the team possessing the ability to change his physical appearance, a vital tool in the business. Both actors provide the comic relief in a film that is otherwise a high-stakes thriller. Ariadne, the newcomer (Ellen Page), is recruited by Cobb to work as the architect who constructs the dream world. Ariadne learns as she goes, just as the audience does, and her emotions reflect the audience’s emotions. Batman veteran Michael Caine also stars in the movie.

Inception is a piece of cinematic genius. DiCaprio brings great vigor and strength to his role. With an ensemble cast of leading actors and actresses, as well as a powerful and haunting score by Hans Zimmer, the film takes you on one hell of a ride. Fans of “The Prestige” and “Memento” will not be disappointed in Nolan’s ambitious feature.

Grade: A