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|Index||57 reviews in total|
I just had the opportunity to watch this movie at a very first preview
in Los Angeles and therefore some things I've seen might be replaced.
They told us, that this was the very first screening (the director and
some actors were present, too) and they are still working on the final
However, I, as most of the audience did, enjoyed the movie very much. It has a great mixture of humor (especially the unbeatable Don Cheadle as Petey and his wife Vernell) combined with a very strong and breathtaking story of the time around the death of Martin Luther King Junior. Even if the story is really deep and not always funny, the director made it possible to view the life of Petey as a very special one, without losing the focus on his fascinating, humor-filled character.
Whenever this movie comes out: Go to the theaters and enjoy - I will definitely go again to laugh and think about this great, special guy! PS: Die spouse of the director, Vondie Curtis-Hall, has a (supporting) role as well, even if he is not listed in here (yet?) on IMDb.
Well done! This movie hooks you initially with its comedy, but then evolves into a serious look at not only race relations, but every individual's struggle to define him/herself. Don Cheadle is so spot-on that it's easy to think it was an effortless role for him, but that would be shortchanging the man for his talents. But the real bonus of the film for me was discovering the supporting actors -- I had never heard of Chiwetel Ejiofor or Taraji Henson before, but, boy, I'll be looking for them now. And if all else fails, the soundtrack for this movie was more than worth the ticket price! Kudos to Kasi Lemmons, the cast and crew!
As Ralph Waldo Petey Greene Jr., who became a one-man inner-city media explosion in Washington, D.C., starting in the late '60s, Don Cheadle is superb. Petey doesn't just say that word he means it. He wins over Dewey Hughes (Chiwetel Ejiofor), the slick, smart program director who is revealed to be a lot less of an stiff than he appears. Directed by Kasi Lemmons , Talk to Me digs into the relationship between Petey and Dewey, whose love/hate relationship is fascinating to watch. The two actors are marvelous. As crazy as he looks in those suits, Cheadle's never looks anything but cool. The rest of the cast is solid, but they mostly stay out of the way of the leads.
I was not sure what to think when I started watching Talk to Me. It
gave off an interesting style, but I wasn't sure it would amount to
anything. Maybe I was afraid it would depend too much on the black
rights subject matter. Immediate impressions aside, I soon found myself
immersed in the movie. I was completely inside by the time of Martin
Luther King, Jr.'s assassination. From there until the end, I felt for
the characters and enjoyed the ride. It reveals some things about our
culture that other movies are afraid to show, but not in a manner where
the whole movie depends on it.
The acting is phenomenal, especially from Don Cheadle as Petey Greene. He makes such a realistic, complex, radical-yet-modest radio talk show host. His emotions flow forth freely from the screen into the audience. Chiwetel Ejiofor also makes a notable appearance as Dewey Hughes, who becomes Greene's manager. The chemistry between these two main characters (and actors) is wonderful. The music editing is excellent and goes a long way to help put an emotional impact on viewers. There is plenty of comedy and equal amounts of tragedy. Towards the end, a point of reflection is achieved which sums up all the main ideas presented throughout the film. The plot itself has its ups and downs, but is ultimately satisfying.
Talk to Me has all the attributes necessary to be a great film. Its structure is original and successfully melds comedy, tragedy, and drama together. Highly recommended if you have the opportunity to see it.
As a resident of Washington, from 1962 to 1975, I got to know Petey
Greene's Washington very well. Any African American who lived in DC
during the sixties, seventies and eighties should find something to
like in this flick for sure. Movie was both informative and
entertaining - which are the best kind to me. The picture's primary
characters are Petey and Dewey Hughes, two totally different brothers.
How their relationships grows and evolves is a wonderful thing to
experience and is the essence of the movie in my opinion. Expect to
have some good laughs and a intimate look into a very chaotic period of
American History. Movie caused me to remember feelings that had long
passed into the mental archives. For those of you old enough to recall,
the sixties and seventies where a very special time in this country.
Movie gives a good look at the different perspectives of the period.
Oh, and Don Cheadle is becoming a class unto himself.
Excellent movie about Washington DC jockey Petey Greene. I had never heard of him, but Director Kasi Lemmons made such a good movie with great characters that I (as an audience member) was interested in finding out about him. Lemmons evokes the music, dress & style of the time very well, and all of the cast was great--not just Don Cheadle, but EVERYONE; as a woman, I liked how his girlfriend was portrayed as a strong woman who knew her man well (his strengths and his weaknesses). I highly recommend it, not just to hear some great period music, but to learn about someone who made a difference (at least in the lives of the people of DC). Both thumbs up! :D
Times are hard. It's the spring of 1967 and the tension culminated
alongside the civil rights movement has not only reached its boiling
point but is about to boil right over. When the movement's most
prominent leader, Martin Luther King Jr. is assassinated, his messages
of brotherly love and non-violent approaches to change are forgotten.
Riots erupted nationwide in over 60 cities as an immense collection of
anger was expressed through unrest and displaced ferocity. In
Washington D.C., the city was calmed in part by the voice of one man, a
radio DJ by the name of Petey Greene. His morning call-in show was the
kind of success that unified its listeners and polarized both their
spirits and convictions. Petey prided himself on staying true to
himself and speaking that truth no matter what the consequence. The
people responded to his frank honesty with devotion and respect. So
when he went back on the air to talk the people of Washington down off
their ledges on the night of Dr. King's death, it was the trust that
had already been established that soothed the fire in the souls; they
healed together. After that night, Petey's career was never the same.
TALK TO ME, the new film by Kasi Lemmons, tells Petey's inspiring
story. Only it doesn't so much tell it as manipulate it into a
conventional narrative about shared friendship and separate dreams
designed for maximum emotional impact.
Petey Greene (Don Cheadle) is first discovered by Dewey Hughes (Chiwetel Ejiofor) as he broadcasts in prison. The two men are instantly placed in juxtaposition to each other in the context of the film. Petey may be in a literal prison but Dewey is in a prison of his own design. The two will need each other to break out and reach the heights of their potential but they must first get past their instinctual dislike for each other. From where Dewey stands, Petey is the kind of black man what gives everyone else a bad name by playing to type and giving into violent, illegal impulses. Meanwhile, from where Petey stands, Dewey has sold his soul to the white man, walking and talking like his white colleagues in an effort to hide his black skin as best he can. The irony is that they both feel that the other is doing a great disservice to the community and that they themselves are role models for the new black identity. Both actors give strong, commanding performances. Cheadle pushes his versatility further as the raucous button-pusher with a turn that is both volatile and reckless. On the other side of the glass, Ejiofor exhibits restraint and an internalized fire that gives his intentions away no matter how hard he tries to mask them. Both could be contenders come awards season if the words coming out of their mouths weren't so formulaic and plain.
While Lemmons may not have made TALK TO ME into the socially telling film it could have been, she does manage moments of insight, tension and brotherhood. Most of these moments are found in the broadcast booths and offices of real life R&B music station, WOL. Prior to getting a job at the station, Petey had grown comfortable speaking his mind to whoever would listen. Whoever would, would always be limited in number. When finally faced with his first time at the mic, expectations are high. After all, Petey has the pressure of being a natural and he's never had to perform for anyone but himself before. He's also never had to watch his tongue before, but he, along with the station owners, soon learns that in order for Petey to be Petey, he's got to just let the words flow. That said, he also learns that a powerful voice comes with responsibility so in order to continue having that voice in such a public and corporate forum, he can only push the line so far. After all, no matter real the station tries to keep it, the white suits who run the show and sign Petey' checks have sponsors to answer to.
It's a shame that a movie with such a funky soundtrack would be lacking in so much soul but TALK TO ME still manages to keep a solid enough groove to keep it alive. I just wish Lemmons had spent more time heeding Petey Greene's message, to keep it real because the truth is what people respond to above all else. Instead, the watered down reality of Petey's path to fame and examination of the relationships that got him there has been mangled and crammed into a pretty picture that the masses can enjoy. The story of a man who told it like it was is told here as politely as Hollywood will allow.
My husband and I saw this movie the day it premiered in Los Angeles. The movie trailer and buzz, plus the music, attracted our attention. We love all music from the 60s and 70s, and especially anything by James Brown. We've always lived on the west coast, so neither of us had heard of Petey Greene (Don Cheadle) or his manager, Dewey Hughes (Chiwetel Ejiofor). We did a little internet searching when we got home to find out Greene had been married, had children, and worked all his life as an activist for social reform by reintegrating ex-convicts back into the community and getting them jobs. All that wasn't important to the film but was interesting to know about Greene's real life. Lends more credence to the reason for his story being told. TALK TO ME is a well-made biopic that I'd highly recommend to family and friends.
"I'll tell it to the hot, I'll tell it to the cold. I'll tell it to the
young, I'll tell it to the old. I don't want no laughin', I don't want
no cryin', and most of all, no signifyin'. This is Petey Greene's
Washington." Petey Greene
Petey Greene was as big in radio in the mid-to-late 60's as Howard Stern in the 90's only Greene was much more powerful an advocate for and influence over minorities that Stern ever even thought to be. Stern himself admits to Petey's groundbreaking DJ persona, speaking truthfully from the heart.
Talk to me smartly chronicles Greene's astounding rise to national prominence as a Washington, D.C. black advocate, whose only limitation dramatically is that in the end his career and life ended pathetically as a result of hubris and misunderstanding.
Don Cheadle as Petey and Chiwetel Ejiofor as his "Mr. Tibbs" manager, Dewey Hughes, are the acting team of the year, initially despising each other, needling each other to be more than they are, comforting each other in down times, and ultimately responsible for the major successes and failures of their lives. All this with barely a scene overplayed. Even after Martin Luther King's death, when Petey the ex-con DJ goes on the air to help mitigate the destructive revenge of blacks in D.C., Cheadle underplays effectively.
The limitation of Talk to Me is that the story has been told many times before, the typical rise and fall of a star, even though it may be true. In this case it is, and the last third of the film suffers from a clichéd depiction of Petey's degeneration and death, both of which are not half as interesting as his rise to stardom. That he struggled with alcohol his whole life, never became comfortable with stand up comedy or TV talk show hosting, and ominously coughed for cancer are not interesting parts of his life, albeit accurate and dominant in his decline.
However, his failure on his only appearance on the Tonight Show is a memorable caution about being something you are not, being forced into a role not meant for you.
Dieing in his early 50's from lung cancer is a sad denouement to a life that had been broadcasting iconic when he simply told it the way it was from a little studio that let him speak effectively to his people about rights and pride. Over 10,000 attended his funeral in D.C., more than any non-elected person in the city's history. Petey would have been proud.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
TALK TO ME (2007) *** Don Cheadle, Chiwtel Ejiofor, Taraji P. Henson,
Martin Sheen, Cedric the Entertainer, Vondie Curtis-Hall, Mike Epps.
(Dir: Kasi Lemmons)
Cheadle Sparkles in Biopic
Don Cheadle is perhaps the most underrated best actor of his generation giving it all in every film performance and not getting the true props and recognition for his craft of versatility. Perhaps this, one of his best roles to date, will change perspectives overall.
Cheadle plays ex-con Petey Greene, a street-smart smoothie, attempting to go legit by looking up a fellow prisoner's brother, Dewey Hughes (Ejiofor also giving an excellent turn), an uptight Washington, DC radio programming manager on the rise who is at a crossroads himself in the hope for bigger and brighter things in a broadcasting career he aspires to. When Petey arrives, all hell breaks loose, with genuine concern expressed by Dewey's boss E.G. Sonderling (Sheen) who has given him the daunting task of making the station a more viable form of entertainment for its dwindling listening in audience. Dewey reluctantly sees inspiration in the foul-mouthed Greene and recruits him only after a series of arguments, insults and a one-up-manship in a game of pool reducing Greene to his basics: a brother in need of a j-o-b.
After a near disastrous opening show, Greene is given one more shot by a scheming Dewey (who locks out all the staff as Greene goes into his fast-talking no b.s. mode) with the gambit paying off to callers ringing the phones off the hook.
In the interim, Dewey begins booking Greene on stand-up comic networking him into a local TV showcasing the controversial DJ and eventually to the top: a spot on "The Tonight Show" in NYC.
Director Lemmons deftly balances the prickly comedy with the genuine drama best depicted in the day Martin Luther King, Jr is assassinated and having Petey shine in his finest hours telling it like it is and uniting the city from the firestorms and rioting in the streets. She has a good command for her actors allowing each one to shine like the formidably funny and fierce Henson as Petey's vulgar yet golden-hearted hoochie mama. Overall the acting is solid and on the money, again with Cheadle and Ejiofor showing deft acting chops with versatility of drama and comedy.
The only flaw in the otherwise fine screenplay by Michael Genet and Rick Famuyiwa is you never get the full story on this larger than life character who has something of a kindred spirit with the late, great Richard Pryor yet the film manages to push on with his sadly limited life (Greene succumbed to cancer in the mid'80s). The gift of gab has never been so enjoyable.
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