Cheadle and Ejiofor turn "Talk" into grace and elegance!
KerrLines | Baltimore,MD | 07/14/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I had heard an hour long expose on the life of Ralph Waldo "Petey" Greene and Dewey Hughes on National Public Radio and was fascinated by the story of their extraordinary partnership/friendship at WOL-AM radio.Arrested for armed robbery and handed a ten -year prison sentence,Petey becomes the disc jockey at Lorton Prison.Upon early release, Petey marches into WOL for a job.With Hughes reluctant help Petey becomes the voice and conscience for Black Americans on talk radio.He is soulful, insightful,many times drunk!...... Interesting story!
Well, this story has become a film to be reckoned with, and in the hands of acting greats Don Cheadle as Petey and Chiwetel Ejiofor as Hughes TALK TO ME is turned into the finest bit of on-screen time by two men this year. These two gentlemen KNOW how to handle their characters.Two finer performances, I dare say, will not be seen this year that are portrayed with such depth,skill and finesse.LET'S TALK OSCARS and GLOBES HERE!!!
Actress Kasi Lemmons of EVE'S BAYOU fame has made an outstanding film .This gifted actress is also a gifted writer and director. She knows how to let a story unfold and implicitly trusts her stars to do the job naturally and with control.
Also featuring Michael Epps as Hughes' brother and Teraji henson as Petey's girlfriend, Vernell, This film is pure and seamless ensemble work at it's finest. DO NOT MISS THIS ONE!"
3.5-Highlights the life and the impact of 1960's radio icon
Jenny J.J.I. | That Lives in Carolinas | 09/29/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This movie must have gotten lost in the shuffle of big blockbuster releases and it deserves so much better. In the 1960s and `70s, Petey Greene (Don Cheadle) talking, as a "tell it like it is" radio DJ in Washington, D.C. You may have never heard of him but he was so popular in the D.C. area, that when he died more than 10,000 people came to his memorial service. Petey was funny, inspiring and a fierce community activist. He was, at times, also over the top with his self-destructive behavior. He was an ex con man, and Cheadle's portrayal is right on target. The "git down" Petey you hear and see on-screen, by all accounts is Petey Greene as he was, unlike the shock jock posers of today.
When Petey cons his way into an early parole, he looks up Dewey Hughes (Chiwetel Ejofor), the brother of a fellow inmate, and someone who had cracked to Petey to come and see him about a job when he got out. Dewey is program director at WOL-AM, a popular urban radio station geared to black music that sees its audience slipping away to edgier DJs. Dewey is a button-down type, in charge of hiring, and on his way to the top at the station owned by E.G. Sonderling (Martin Sheen). How Petey fast talks his way onto the air for the first time, with Dewey's help, is funny but it also offers a critical look at how people stereotype one another. Petey was able to keep it real in prison, and now on the outside, in part because of his sexy girlfriend Vernell (Taraji P. Henson of Hustle of Flow). Now he's able to connect with the radio audience, not just because he plays good music but he's always up front with his on air persona. Petey pulls no punches with his biting social commentary and his invitation to listeners to call him with their thoughts. "Talk to me," he tells them.
The film's mix of hilarious circumstances still manages to keep one grounded, even with the events surrounding the death of Martin Luther King Jr. and the impact of the Viet Nam war. Substance abuse and dreams of being on top of the world are the things that limit what Petey and Dewey can do together. If this story were not true, this would be a spoiler. You know things will crash, just not when, and to what extent the damage will be. Petey's popularity eventually surpasses that of his fellow star disc jockeys, Nighthawk (Cedric The Entertainer) and Sunny Jim (Vondie Curtis Hall).
We've seen excellent biopics in the past about American black men such as Ali and Ray. There are, however, a few notable differences between this film and those pictures. They were internationally known as entertainers by both the public and themselves. Both Petey and Dewey were tough guys but we get a glimpse of that inner self that men generally regard as weakness. That is, love and respect for another man without any homosexual overtones. Talk to Me digs deep in this area.
Director Kasi Lemmons (Eve's Bayou and The Caveman's Valentine) captures the flavor of Melvin Van Peebles and add in the great music from the late `60s, with a sultry score by Terrence Blanchard, some biting, sarcastic humor about Motown, and you have a movie that is not to be missed. Talk to Me tells quite a story about this slice of American culture.
Before there was Howard there was Petey
Ken Jensen | Kingston, NY | 03/26/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Fantastic! In all ways! You just can't go wrong with Don Cheadle. He's that good. I love seeing the 60's and 70's as they were such a potent time in our country and I never tire of the clothes and styles of speech from that era. Any great movie captures the emotions of that time as this one did. Love watching the birth of trend setters, too. This character was smooth and abrasive at the same time. That's an enjoyable quality to witness. Petey stuck to his guns throughout a life filled with controversy. He never wavered. That's admirable. When the two main characters acknowledge what their friendship means to each other, it's powerful. A friend had been trying to get me to watch this for months. Glad I finally listened!"
"Station of the People, by the People, for the People"
Rocky Raccoon | Boise, ID | 11/07/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"`Talk to Me' has to be one of the biggest surprises of 2007. Hardly a blip on the radar, this film is emotionally engaging: fun, funny, sad, and profound in many respects. An inspiring true tale, the story revolves around D.C. D.J. "Petey" Green (Don Cheadle) who comes to shake up the nation's capital during the advent of the tempest's center during the sixties. A self-described "ex-con," and having a "PhD,...for P.O.P.,..." or "p-----g off people,.." "Petey" cleverly gets out of prison and takes an acquaintance to his word to hire him at Washington's flagging radio station, WOL. Station head E.G. Sounderling (Martin Sheen) is tough and unyielding. Countering his desire for ratings' number changes, he is, nevertheless, too cautious to do what's needed to make them realized. In his favor, he has the judgment to promote Dewey Hughes (Chiwetel Ejiofor) to program manager. Once "Petey" is released from prison both men put all their money on one another as Dewey places him in a morning slot to shoot his mouth off and spin records.
"Petey" gives big payoffs, but is a big risk to the station. From there Dewey becomes his manager, and both have a chance at the top. Booking dates from nightclubs to a local TV show, "Petey" lands a guest spot on `The Tonight Show'. At this point the two friends and associates hold different priorities, ones that mold their futures as well as their friendship. Dewey took many risks on "Petey"'s behalf, but sometimes Dewey's controlling management style make him come off the way Col. Tom Parker did for Elvis. "Petey"'s struggle with alcohol and female fidelity (to girlfriend Winfred Watson with a wonderfully cast Taraji P. Henson) make his struggle more interesting, and his commentary during the tragedy of Dr. King's death give the whole biopic solid ground.
Besides a great performance by Cheadle, who in my mind flexes his acting chops and improved his repertoire from fine movies like 'Hotel Rwanda,' 'Crash' and the more recent 'Reign on Me,' the story and dialogue are marvelously engaging. Supporting cast Ejiofor, Sheen, and Henson keep it all real. (Guaranteed to produce both tears and laughter.) (With a cameo role of Cedric the Entertainer as "Nighthawk" Bob Terry.)"
'Talk to Me' Has Much To Say
Rudy Palma | NJ | 01/17/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The Kasi Lemmons-lensed "Talk to Me," starring Don Cheadle as notorious shock jock and television personality Ralph "Petey" Greene, is an absorbing, way to spend two hours. A historical drama laced with sharp doses of comedy, the film depicts the roller coaser ride of Greene's life and provides the perfect vehicle for the incredible Cheadle to sink his teeth into.
In mid-1960's Washington D.C. Greene is five years into a sentence at Lorto Reformatory for armed robbey and already infamous as the prison disc jockey when he crosses paths with Dewey Hughes, portrayed by the engaging Chiwetel Ejiofor, a representative of local AM radio station WOL who is leaving the facility after visiting his brother.
"Your brother said y'all need a new DJ at that radio station," Greene says to Hughes. "Hey, I'm your man!"
"You're in prison," he replies.
"It's a minor challenge."
Through smart maneuvering Greene is able to procure an early release, and persistence pays off when he lands his own radio program "Rapping with Petey Greene," although he is under the watchful eye of station head E.J. Sonderling, played by Martin Sheen. Though initially fired for his dirty mouth and brazen manner, it soon becomes clear that he must be reinstated; the people have spoken, and he is their voice. When shocking events like the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. rock the city and bring the turbulent decade to a head, Greene is there to calm the sad, the angry and all in-between as his popularity continues on the upswing. With Hughes as manger and creative partner, will he savor his newfound position as local luminary, or grow too big for his own shoes?
Cheadle nails the role not only because he is an adept comedic actor but also because he knows how to navigate the dramatic nuances that possessed Greene at the height of his fame. His range is so vast yet his performance so natural that, like most good things, it is easy to take for granted. Ejiofor is pitch-perfect as Hughes, candidly displaying the humanity of a man so hell bent on achieving success and rising above his modest upbringing that he soon becomes blind to reason and, most significantly, where he came from. Sheen is also firmly in character as the bureaucratic yet benevolent Sonderling, and Taraji P. Henson is a delight as Greene's brassy girlfriend Vernell.
The film could be a solid 20 minutes shorter, and the few but notable historical inaccuracies peppered throughout the plot are needless, especially in these days of Google and Wikipedia. However, "Talk to Me" is still nonetheless wholly entertaining and even inspiring.
Look for Cheadle to garner an Oscar nod this coming Tuesday."