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 In addition to turning in another customarily high quality performance

that captures all of Greene’s complexity and charisma,

Don Cheadle also served as the Executive Producer of Talk to Me

 

 

Don Cheadle Films

A Lesson Before Dying / Devil in a Blue Dress / Hotel Rwanda  / The United States of Leland / Rosewood  / Hamburger Hill

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Talk To Me

Film Review by Vince Rogers

 

The great 20th century philosopher Sly Stone once said that “Everybody is a Star.” Some stars always rise to the occasion, some stars often fall from grace, some stars slowly burn out and some stars join to form shining constellations. During the course of their two decades long friendship, TV and radio personality Petey Greene and his manager Dewey Hughes would do all of the above.

Don Cheadle as Ralph 'Petey' Greene and Taraji P. Henson as Vernell in Focus Features' Talk to Me. Talk to Me, helmed by Kasi Lemmons (Eve’s Bayou) chronicles the true story of the fall, rise and fall of one of America’s first, surely the most “colorful” and possibly the most highly controversial radio deejays and TV talk show hosts of all time, Ralph Waldo “Petey” Greene. Long before Howard Stern or any other “Shock Jock,” Petey Greene brought an uncompromising edginess and “racy” political incorrectness to the airwaves of our nation’s capital.

Petey Greene (Don Cheadle) dreamed very big, but the world he came from was low on opportunity. He was a product of the tough Washington D.C. ghetto and he could not manage to see a world beyond it. The only way he knew how to make a living, was by using his way with words as a street hustler. Unfortunately, this was before Hip-Hop and his rhymes didn’t pay him, nor could they keep him out of jail.

Petey wound up doing a long bid in a prison, where his gift for gab eventually leads to an assignment as the prison’s PA announcer. He would ultimately become the resident celebrity deejay of the penitentiary. One fateful day, he was asked to negotiate with an inmate who was threatening to kill himself. This good deed, his service to the jailhouse community and good behavior would ultimately lead to his early release. It’s a good thing that the warden never found out that Petey and the other inmate cunningly staged the suicide attempt themselves.

While Petey’s star was falling, Dewey Hughes (Chiwetel Ejiofor) star was definitely rising. He was a young executive at a popular, but “also ran” Black soul music radio station in the “Chocolate City.” Dewey and Petey once had a chance meeting at the prison where Dewey’s brother Milo (Mike Epps) was also incarcerated. At the time, Dewey called Petey a “miscreant” and facetiously challenged Petey to look him up when he got out of jail. Little did he realize what a unique creation Petey truly was.

Petey was determined to be a “Chocolate Star” and illuminate the citizens of D.C. with his unique take no prisoners style deejay skills. Shortly after his release from prison, he and his “Foxy Lady” Vernell (Taraji P. Henson) make a rowdy grand entrance at Dewey’s radio station to “Get his job.” Although he didn’t pass the first “interview,” he eventually makes it on the air in rather inspired fashion.

Petey always knew he needed a man of obvious talents like Dewey to help him get where he wanted to go. However, it takes a little longer for the highly polished, sophisticatedly urbane, well educated Dewey to realize that he needed what Petey had even more. Petey’s genuine grass roots love for his people and uncompromising simple tell it like it “t-i-is” integrity is what Dewey needs to truly achieve the stardom he so greatly desires.

Dewey wanted to be a star but he didn’t know how to say the things he needed to say to get there. Petey wanted to be a star, but he didn’t know how to do the things he needed to do to become one. Talk to Me is a constantly hilarious, often poignant and intensely inspirational story of two very different men trying to achieve their versions of the “American Dream.” It challenges us to remember that even people who seem desperately disparate may need each other to become the people they were meant to be. This is a Black history lesson that many of us have forgotten and one that others have never clearly understood.

Kasi Lemmons direction is simply outstanding. She manages to capture the “Black Pride,” civil unrest, political turmoil and class struggles of the time period with a high level of authenticity. Petey and Dewey embody the hopes, aspirations, grief and frustrations of “inner-city” Black people in the 1960s and 1970s with heartfelt sincerity and compelling realism. Ms. Lemmons does an excellent job of bringing an almost flawless screenplay by Rick Famuyiwa (Brown Sugar) to life and manages to elicit brilliant performances from her talented cast.

In addition to turning in another customarily high quality performance that captures all of Greene’s complexity and charisma, Don Cheadle also served as the Executive Producer of Talk to Me. The other actors also turn in superb performances, which is to be expected from such talents as Martin Sheen, Cedric the Entertainer and Taraji P. Henson. However, Ms. Henson may want to be mindful of her repeated casting as the long suffering, dedicated, “Soul Sister” muse to her man with a heart of gold. Nevertheless, her performance was heartwarming, incandescent and inspired as usual.

It is no small task to steal a film from the likes of the extremely talented Don Cheadle, but Chiwetel Ejiofor (Dirty Pretty Things) as Dewey does just that. He superbly captures the hopes, dreams, angst, and insecurities of many young Black people of the day, who were trying to escape their impoverished housing project backgrounds and move into the “Talented Tenth.” Ejiofor delivers a very engaging, multilayered, intricate, portrayal of a character that could easily have been seen by some as a villain. Instead, he manages to take the audience on a journey into the heart and soul of Dewey Hughes, a young man trying to define “Black Power” on his own terms.

We come away with an endearing understanding of Dewey. He is a man who has also had to battle against the same system that almost managed to prevent Petey from sharing his gifts with the world and becoming a source of inspiration to the community he so dearly loved. Hopefully, we will see much more of Ejiofor’s magnificent talents in the future as he continues to take on the complex characters he is becoming known for.

Talk to Me is highly recommended. I encourage everyone to support this film. Hopefully, it is destined to one day become one of the classic films of Black cinema.

Vince Rogers was raised in Atlanta's Bowen Homes housing projects and went on to attend Morehouse College as an academic scholar. Although he is a widely published writer of essays, poetry, short fiction, and scholarly papers, he is most proud of being Editor of his high school newspaper, the Frederick Douglass North Star.

His works were among the Official Inaugural Selections of "I've Known Rivers" The Museum of the African Diaspora Story Project: Reproduction of the New Breed Leaders & Black Mecca for the Sold Brother. He was the TimBookTu Featured Writer for December of 2006. His scholarly paper The Evolution of Shawntae Harris was presented at the Hip Hop's Defiant Divas Conference at Vanderbilt University. His monthly fiction column Pulp Fiction appears in Pulp Magazine and his film Reviews are featured in the Southern Screen Report.

He contributes to Clean Sheets Magazine; TimBookTu; Taj Mahal Review: An International Journal; Chicken Bones: A Journal; Thereby Hangs a Tale; Catalyst Magazine; Southern Screen Report; Pulp Magazine; Nghosi Books Anthology: Longing Lust and Love ; 3 Lights Gallery (UK) The Launch Exhibition; Black Arts Quarterly (Stanford University). You can read selected works at his Blogs: vincevision.blogspot.com, waxvainglorious.blogspot.com and visit his Website: www.vincevision.com. / vincevision@yahoo.com  or vince@vincevision.com

posted 27 July 2007

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AALBC.com's 25 Best Selling Books


 

Fiction

#1 - Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark
#2 - Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree
#3 - Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane
#4 - Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper
#5 - Stackin' Paper 2 Genesis' Payback by Joy King
#6 - Thug Lovin' (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark
#7 - When I Get Where I'm Going by Cheryl Robinson
#8 - Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby
#9 - The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 - Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 - Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 - Don't Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 - For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 - For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 - Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 - The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 - Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 - Purple Panties: An Eroticanoir.com Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 - Stackin' Paper by Joy King

#20 - Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 - The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 - Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 - Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 - I Dreamt I Was in Heaven - The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter

Non-fiction

#1 - Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
#2 - Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans
#3 - Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane
#4 - Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper
#5 - Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You're Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant
#6 - Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey
#7 - The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight
#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
#9 - The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 - John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 - Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 -The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 - The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 - The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 - Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can't Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 - Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 - Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 - John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 - Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 - Age Ain't Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 - 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino
#23 - Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul by Tom Lagana
#24 - 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 - Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

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Greenback Planet: How the Dollar Conquered

the World and Threatened Civilization as We Know It

By H. W. Brands

In Greenback Planet, acclaimed historian H. W. Brands charts the dollar's astonishing rise to become the world's principal currency. Telling the story with the verve of a novelist, he recounts key episodes in U.S. monetary history, from the Civil War debate over fiat money (greenbacks) to the recent worldwide financial crisis. Brands explores the dollar's changing relations to gold and silver and to other currencies and cogently explains how America's economic might made the dollar the fundamental standard of value in world finance. He vividly describes the 1869 Black Friday attempt to corner the gold market, banker J. P. Morgan's bailout of the U.S. treasury, the creation of the Federal Reserve, and President Franklin Roosevelt's handling of the bank panic of 1933. Brands shows how lessons learned (and not learned) in the Great Depression have influenced subsequent U.S. monetary policy, and how the dollar's dominance helped transform economies in countries ranging from Germany and Japan after World War II to Russia and China today. He concludes with a sobering dissection of the 2008 world financial debacle, which exposed the power--and the enormous risks--of the dollar's worldwide reign.  The Economy

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Sex at the Margins

Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry

By Laura María Agustín

This book explodes several myths: that selling sex is completely different from any other kind of work, that migrants who sell sex are passive victims and that the multitude of people out to save them are without self-interest. Laura Agustín makes a passionate case against these stereotypes, arguing that the label 'trafficked' does not accurately describe migrants' lives and that the 'rescue industry' serves to disempower them. Based on extensive research amongst both migrants who sell sex and social helpers, Sex at the Margins provides a radically different analysis. Frequently, says Agustin, migrants make rational choices to travel and work in the sex industry, and although they are treated like a marginalised group they form part of the dynamic global economy. Both powerful and controversial, this book is essential reading for all those who want to understand the increasingly important relationship between sex markets, migration and the desire for social justice. "Sex at the Margins rips apart distinctions between migrants, service work and sexual labour and reveals the utter complexity of the contemporary sex industry. This book is set to be a trailblazer in the study of sexuality."—Lisa Adkins, University of London

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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update 23 February 2012

 

 

 

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Related files:  Legends and Legacies      Bad Brains      Necromancers of Negritude    Griot (for Rudy)      Kings of Crunk    An Angelic Trio     Talk To Me     For No Particular Reason