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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Filmmaking > Industry > Music Videos > Biography > Director F. Gary Gray – The Shooter Series: Volume Two (2010/Vivendi/Genius DVD)

Director F. Gary Gray – The Shooter Series: Volume Two (2010/Vivendi/Genius DVD)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: B-     Main Program: B-



F. Gary Gray is a good visual director and key director of Music Videos in the Hip Hop/Rap genre, but his transition to doing feature films has not been as good.  I have noted this in several reviews I have done of his work.  Now, Director F. Gary Gray – The Shooter Series: Volume Two is a nearly hour-long program gives us a good look at what has been a successful career.  The documentary looks at all of his work, but much of his Music Video output is here and here is what is included:


Jay-Z – Show Me What You Got

Outkast – Ms. Jackson

R. Kelly – If I Could Turn Back The Hands Of Time

Babyface & Stevie Wonder – How Come, How Long

Whitney Houston – I Believe In You & Me

TLC – Diggin’ On You

Dr. Dre – Keep Their Heads Ringin’

TLC – Waterfalls

Dr. Dre & Ice Cube – Natural Born Killaz

Coolio – Fantastic Voyage

Queen Latifah – Black Hand Side

Outkast – Southernplaylisticadillacmuzik

Cypress Hill – I Ain’t Goin’ Out Like That

Cypress Hill – When The Ship Goes Down

Ice Cube – It Was A Good Day

Mary J. Blige – You Don’t Have To Worry


Fans will note the absence of clips like Jon B.’s Pretty Girl, Barry White’s Come On, the Brandy/Tamia Missing You and Will Smith’s La Fiesta.



For artists who wanted more than just Hype Williams’ world of techno-fisheye lens shots in the Kubrick vein turned to Gray for something more complex and diverse, which is why his run directing Hip Hop Videos is as significant as any director in the genre.  He thinks outside of doing just another Video and that made for some interesting work that is often the peak of his work.  Then there are his feature films.


I have criticized most of them as not as effective as they could be.  For the record, I would rate his films as follows: Law Abiding Citizen (overdone), Be Cool (a disaster for which it is good he took a break), The Italian Job (has its moments for a remake), A Man Apart (not so good), The Negotiator (disappointment), Friday (amusing at best) and Set It Off (his best film to date).  But he is a very prepared, personable, technically adept filmmaker, so why the lag between short form Videos and feature length narratives?


After watching, I realize that it is Gray burdened with too much of the details of a given film that holds him back from doing his best work.  He has great taste on what to ask from his actors and knows what he wants his action sequences and big set pieces to look like, so they are not a problem.  The problem is exceeding all that and it is hurting his career and his peak abilities as a true directorial artist on his features.  The five-year break between bomb Be Cool and mixed success of Law Abiding Citizen (which he did his best on considering he took over from another director only two weeks before shooting!) may have helped him a bit, but his next film will be as important as any and may just determine his viability as a feature film director in the future.  I want to see him succeed, especially after seeing him behind-the-scenes here.  Hope things take off.  Until then, this is a solid installment in what should be a long-running series if the quality remains this high.


The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image offers various aspect ratios, but the main interview footage is new HD shot work and we also get our share of film and analog video throughout.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo mix is just fine for a documentary like this whose sound ranges from the mixdown of multi-channel film soundtracks to monophonic archive audio.  Extras include those Videos if you want to count them as such, Giving Back mini-featurette, an illustrated booklet inside the DVD case, eight trailers to seven of Gray’s feature films and a making of featurette on Law Abiding Citizen, reviewed elsewhere on this site.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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