***/**** Image B- Sound B Extras B+
directed by Nick Broomfield
by Bill Chambers A few days ago in THE HOT BUTTON, Dave Poland distinguished Nick Broomfield from his peers in the documentary field better--or, at least, more succinctly--than I've ever seen it done: "[Broomfield] creates an atmosphere in which you connect emotionally not with the characters in the film, but with his plight in trying to get his film made." That's certainly true of Broomfield's Biggie & Tupac, in which almost every sequence carries the subtext of peril: A bona fide Dante in headphones, Broomfield latches onto a Virgil (ex-police officer Russell Poole) who escorts him, more or less, through circles of Hell (the gang-marked territories of Compton, the rap-music industry, and finally prison). An alarming number of the director's interviews in Biggie & Tupac begin with a summary of attempts on the subject's life, and in a deleted scenes section on the DVD, we see that Broomfield tried and failed to chat with the owner of L.A.'s notorious "Last Resort," a bar at which gangbangers receive an ace-of-spades merit badge for their first killshot. A red ace means a flesh wound; a black ace means fatality.