Talk to Me (Focus Features, R)

talktome2Cheadle's and Ejiofor's on-screen chemistry is mesmerizing. They worked amazingly well together as they showcased the constant tension between program manager and talent as well as the natural tension that develops between male friends.

 

 

 

 

talktome

Before Howard Stern and Don Imus, there was Petey Green. For any of you not in the know, Petey Green was a legendary D.C. disc jockey who had a checkered past and a colorful vocal delivery. Talk to Me follows the story of Green's rise to prominence, his societal contributions during the radical 60's, as well as his downfall. Green was something special in the world of broadcasting keeping it real, telling the people the truth rather than just spinning discs-and because of his realistic delivery, the public responded. He was a force to be reckoned with socially and politically. Talk to Me is an honest, sober look at the man's life and does a fantastic job in paying homage to a true broadcasting legend.

Don Cheadle tackles the challenging role of Petey Green and delivers an electrifying performance. Being a fan of Cheadle in general, I always suspected that he was destined for greater roles. Green could be that role that proves once and for all Cheadle is much more than a supporting actor-he gives this role charisma, passion, and a healthy dose of attitude. The thing about Cheadle's performance that impressed me the most was how he knew how far he could push the audience but then reel them back into the story. He was over the top when needed, but knew when to showcase Green's vulnerable side which gave his performance depth and texture. Alongside Cheadle, Chiwetel Ejiofor nails his role as Green's program director, Dewey Hughes. Ejiofor has the rare ability of delivering his lines with a majestic flair that gives each of his performances an air of nobility.

Cheadle's and Ejiofor's on-screen chemistry is mesmerizing. They worked amazingly well together as they showcased the constant tension between program manager and talent as well as the natural tension that develops between male friends. Their combined performances was inherently interesting to watch as the story unfolded, and as each actor forced the other to take his performance to the next level.

Providing much of the comic relief was Taraji P. Henson in the role of Green's wisecracking love interest, Vernell Watson. When people in Hollywood talk about the X-Factor, they should use this woman as example because she has it in abundance. Stealing several scenes, Henson's performance was pure joy to watch as she infused an amazing amount of energy into the movie. Rounding out the list of impressive performances was Martin Sheen as station manager E.G. Sonderling and Missouri's very own Cedric the Entertainer as "Nighthawk" Bob Terry. Both actors did a superb job in their respective roles making the cast of Talk to Me one of my favorite ensemble casts of 2007.

Both Rick Famuyiwa and Michael Genet deserve special recognition as the movie's screenwriters. The razor sharp, witty dialogue was a highlight of the film. Several of the lines were so hilarious that the rolling laughter caused by the dialogue made it difficult to hear subsequent exchanges between the characters. Director Kasi Lemmons did an excellent job in her directorial duties ensuring that the audience was both informed and entertained. Green and Hughes were real people and Lemmons made sure to showcase their strengths and flaws rather than just show them as characters. She makes the audience see each person portrayed in the film as a real living, breathing person struggling with the tumultuous events of the ‘60's while not coming off preachy — no easy feat.

The only aspect of the movie that made me wince was some of the language used in the film— families beware! Some of the phrases or slang made me uncomfortable in the beginning, but then I realized that in order to this movie to be effective in its storytelling, those uncomfortable phrases and words had to be used. While not PC in any regards, I had to remind myself that the '60s weren't about being PC, it was about keeping it real, and Talk to Me keeps it real at all times.

Coupled with a sensational soundtrack, Talk to Me is sure to be a surprise hit of the summer. If you grow tired of the smash ‘em up, blow ‘em up, blockbuster flicks at the megaplex, I suggest you take the time to seek out this movie. Talk to Me proves that sometimes real stories about real people can be more entertaining than popcorn flicks about wizards, robots, or web-slingers. | Jim Campbell

 

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