Sunday, November 4, 2007

Talk to Me DVD

DVD Review by Kam Williams

Headline: DVD Features Don Cheadle as Con-Turned-Controversial DC DJ

When Ralph Waldo “Petey” Greene (1931-1984) was raised in Washington, DC, by his own admission, his best friends were pimps, prostitutes and gamblers. Tragically, his own mother was a repeat offender who spent over 30 years in jail, so it’s no surprise that he would drop out of high school and also end up incarcerated.
Lucky for him, however, he did eventually find his calling behind bars while working as the prison’s DJ. Then, after being paroled in the late Sixties, he talked a local AM station, WOL, into giving him a shot despite his criminal record, and the rest is radio history. He made the most of that opportunity, creating a community affairs program called “Rapping with Petey Greene” on which he discussed the social and political issues of the day.
A diamond in the rough, Petey often caught hell from his superiors for speaking in the unvarnished vernacular of the street. But it was precisely that ability to reach the masses which resonated with the people and expanded his audience. The show skyrocketed in the ratings and he became something of a local institution, and he would later parlay his success into a TV show and an invite to the White House to meet President Jimmy Carter.
Petey’s inspirational overcoming the odds saga is the subject of Talk to Me, a warts-and-all bio-pic by Kasi Lemmons. The movie marks Ms. Lemmons best work since the splash she made with her spectacular directorial debut, Eve’s Bayou. The film stars Don Cheadle as Petey, whose raw street appeal is effectively offset by the relatively-bourgy behavior of his pal and station manager, Dewey Hughes (Chiwetel Ejiofor).
The picture contains a couple of other performances worthy of note, namely, Taraji P. Henson’s as Petey’s girlfriend Vernell, and Martin Sheen’s as the exasperated exec always trying to keep him in check. Worthwhile for the nostalgic appeal of the vintage costumes, retro afros and classic R&B soundtrack alone.

Excellent (3.5 stars)
Rated R for sexual content, ethnic slurs and pervasive profanity.
Running time: 119 minutes
Studio: Universal Studios Home Video
DVD Extras: Deleted scenes, plus a couple of featurettes, entitled “Who Is Petey Greene?” and “Recreating P-Town.”

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