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Talk to Me (2007)

 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

I did not mean for this to be a Kasi Lemmon’s double feature, but I was taken aback when I saw her name as the director of Talk to Me. I vaguely remember the movie when it was in theaters in 2007. It seemed like a nice enough movie, but I never got the nerve to watch until now. I’m glad I did.

An uptight radio program director, Dewey Hughes (Chiwetel Ejiofor) visits his brother, Milo (Mike Epps) in prison. He comes out of obligation. They overhear an abrasive voice coming over the loudspeaker. It belongs to do Ralph Waldo “Petey” Greene, Jr. (Don Cheadle) who is broadcasting his show out of Warden Smithers (Peter MacNeill) office. Milo has been writing Dewey about Petey.

The station that Dewey works for, WOL is sagging listenership and is looking for a new deejay to replace Sunny Jim Kelsey (Vondie Curtis-Hall) in the morning shift. Dewey doesn’t like Petey’s delivery and tries to leave the prison. Dewey is cornered by Petey’s main squeeze, Vernell (Taraji P. Henson) to give him a chance when he gets out of the joint.

Dewey blindly agree to it. When Petey is released from prison and come barging through the doors asking for the job, Dewey acts stupid about it. After not getting the position, Petey decides to protest the station doors until he could get the position. Dewey asks the station owner, Mr. Sonderling (Martin Sheen) to give him an opportunity.

After a shaky start, Petey becomes a prominent voice of the black community during the civil rights movement in the late 60s. No other station was talking about black issues at the time. People needed to hear the stories that are happening in their community.

I was laughing my ass off with this movie. Don Cheadle has a delivery that make you believe that he is this character. I enjoyed the way that Petey told it like it is. He didn’t give a damn about who he offended. Some things needed to be said. I loved that. Chiwetel Ejiofor was great as Dewey. He even won the Indie Spirit Award for his performance. It was well-deserved.

Judgment: I love watching a story about a person that I never heard of and I would like to get the chance to know more.

Rating: 8/10

Eve’s Bayou (1997)

Memory is a selection of images, some elusive, others printed indelibly on the brain. The summer I killed my father, I was 10 years old.

— Eve

It has been a decade since I have seen Kasi Lemmons’ Eve’s Bayou. I remember that it was sitting in my grandmother’s VHS shelf for years gathering dust for all I know. I saw a copy of the movie that my library and picked. I remember certain parts of the movie, but it’s good to have a refresher.

1962 Louisana is where we have the story of the Batiste family. Eve (Jurnee Smollett) named after an ancestor that saved her master from dying, is being treated unfairly by the family. Being the middle child, she is left out in the cold.

During a house party one night, Eve caught her father, Louis (Samuel L. Jackson) being intimate with a woman, Metty Mereaux (Lisa Nicole Carson) in the carriage house where she was hiding. Traumatized about what she saw, Louis tries to keep his secret quiet from his wife, Roz (Lynn Whitfield).

She tries to tell her older sister, Cisely (Meagan Good) about what she saw, but Cisely chooses not to believe her. She thinks that she is lying. Cisely spins the story to say that they were drunk and falling on each other.

Eve begins to have terrible nightmares or maybe they are premonitions of what things are to come. She hangs around her Aunt Mozelle (Debbi Morgan) who is the psychic around the bayou and possibly practices voodoo.

Roz knows deep down in her soul that Louis is being unfaithful to her. She regrets leaving her family for a snake in the grass. Walking down by the bayou, Roz and Mozelle stumbles upon Elzora (Diahann Carroll), a rival psychic of Mozelle’s. Curious Roz decides to have a reading that warns her of impending doom in her family. Unimpressed by Elzora, Mozelle asks for a reading. Elzora tells her that she is a “black widow” cursed with having the loves of her life dies in front of her very eyes.

Slowly but surely, the secrets that were long-buried deep come up in unexpected ways. The family lives turn upside down.

It is refreshing to see a black movie that has complex characters. They are fully realized. I especially enjoyed watching Debbi Morgan’s performance. She won nominated for a couple of awards for her performance and won the Indie Spirit Award. It was well deserved.

Judgment: A movie that has heart, but tends to veer into the melodramatic at times.

Rating: 7.5/10

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