Sunday, July 22, 2007

Talk to Me

I went to see this movie today because it stars Don Cheadle. I'd watch him in ANYTHING. If they did a sequel to Mulholland Falls with Melanie Griffith's now fucked up face and Nick Nolte looking like his infamous mug shot, I'd see it if Don Cheadle had a cameo in it. I'd watch another NINE HUNDRED HOURS of Inland Empire for a five second shot of Cheadle. I adore him.

And he's amazing in this film about D.C. DJ, Talk show host, stand-up comic and community activist Ralph Waldo "Petey" Greene Jr. An ex-con with a talent for "pissing people off," Petey worms his way into an on-air slot at WOL-AM and becomes an overnight sensation. Cheadle owns this role--from the gravelly voice and gritty philosophy to the strutting walk and in your face personality. As Petey, he portrays a man both cocksure and insecure--and manages to make us root for him even when he's being an asshole.

Directed by Kasi Lemmons (Eve's Bayou), the film evokes the history and culture of the late 60s and 70s. The costume and set design is fantastic and the supporting performances by Chiwetel Ejiofor as Dewey Hughes, Petey's best friend and manager, and Taraji P. Henson (Hustle and Flow) as Petey's girlfriend Vernell Waters, are top notch. Henson especially stands out in a role that's a 180 degree turn from her submissive portrayal of the shy pregnant prostitute standing by her pimp. She's a force of nature in this role. But have no doubt--this is Cheadle's movie. He not only stars but executive produced the film as well.

I lived in D.C. for many years, but never had the opportunity to hear Petey Greene (way before my time!). Based on his depiction in Talk to Me, he sounds like he would have been worth listening to.

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