CINEMA: THE BETTER SIDE OF TUPAC

GRIDLOCK'D SHOWS THAT HAD HE LIVED, THE GANGSTA RAPPER MIGHT HAVE BECOME A FINE ACTOR

A perplexing chasm separated the two Tupac Shakurs. As rap's Public Gangsta No. 1, he spumed venom on CD, reeked menace onstage, wore his tattoos like a war hero's medals, did time for violent crimes and, at 25, got gunned down in Las Vegas last September. As a budding film star, though, he pinwheeled charm and emotional purity. Shakur, who had acted professionally since he was 12, wasn't quite Sidney Poitier, but in a decent range of roles (in Juice, Poetic Justice, Above the Rim) he showed power and promise.

In Gridlock'd, an ambitious first film as writer-director by actor Vondie...

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