In the Screening Room

For the Deep Ellum Film Festival, the third time's the charm

Welcome to Death Row The tale of Death Row Records is perhaps the most laughable and tragic in the history of the music business: Its boss and principle financier landed their asses in prison; its greatest star, in a coffin; its mastermind, in a studio isolated from his former running mates. Leigh Savidge's downer documentary, a narrative told by its key participants and buoyed by filched footage from news reports and home video, is unflinching and unforgiving; only Dr. Dre, the architect of West Coast hip-hop, emerges a hero. Everyone else, from just-released-from-the-joint Marion "Suge" Knight to the late Tupac Shakur to icky Death Row attorney David Kenner on down the food chain, is covered in the muck and mire of treachery amid so much ambition and genius. These guys were talented at making music and mischief, and they paid the price more than they got paid. Welcome to Death Row is compelling and complete, detailing every lawsuit, every betrayal, every dis, every death. At film's end, you wonder only what might have happened had the fellas laid down the chronic and Glocks and stayed in the studio and the hell off the streets. (RW) Screens at 7 p.m. November 17 at the Bijou Theater.

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