A well made film that tells the story of somebody it doesn't seem many people know about.
I think a commentary track with Don Cheadle would have been good.
Talk to Me is the story of real life radio host, Ralph Waldo "Petey" Greene, Jr. Played to perfection by Don Cheadle this film is the story of how this ex-convict got a job on the radio and all but took it over. Using an in your face style that hadn't really been seen before, he said things people either wouldn't say, couldn't say or were afraid to say. Adding a lot to this story is the fact that when Martin Luther King was assassinated, he stood up and basically became somebody for this nation to really listen to, respect and learn from. What is the most interesting aspect of Talk to Me is the fact that Greene is obviously intelligent, he has things to say, but there's also a soft side to this character that Don Cheadle seems to exercise perfectly.
All in all I was really impressed with Talk to Me. By all accounts, when I first saw information on this film it seemed like a low budget period piece. However, Kasi Lemmons has paid such strong attention to detail that this movie doesn't look low budget at all. Also helping matters is the fact that it's filled with strong actors like Cheadle, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Martin Sheen and yes, even Cedric the Entertainer.
Who Is Petey Greene?
In this featurette we get a glimpse of this character from all the main players who were involved in making the film. We hear from Don Cheadle, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Director Kasi Lemmons and others as they offer up snippets of who this man was. Something that becomes very clear right off the bat is the fact that Petey Greene was certainly a product of his time. With his ability to grab listeners by saying, what some considered, the unthinkable, he showed himself to be a man of, by and for the people. All told, this featurette was good, a little short and I wish it would have gone a lot more in-depth into this character from the ground up.
There are a bunch of deleted scenes on this DVD that are cut together in one giant chunk. They have titles like "We're not the Celtics" and "Sonderling After Riot." While I didn't have time to go through each and every one of these, I will say that they looked very sharp and in no way like the assets to create them had been sitting on the cutting room floor. Certainly check these out but at 1 hour and 59 minutes, I think that Talk to Me plays just fine.
Anamorphic Widescreen - 2.35:1. This film didn't have a distinct look so much as it looked big on this DVD. It was rich with colors, outfits, hairstyles and other details that were popular during the 1960s time period of this story. This DVD seems really strongly compressed and it should when you consider that it wasn't too long ago that this same film was playing in movie theaters. I also like that this film was an independent but it didn't feel small. While I couldn't find the budget online, I will say that it appears that the creators of Talk to Me have gotten the most bang for their buck.
Language: English Dolby Digital 5.1. Subtitles: English, Spanish and French. A nice component to this release is the audio. By having music from the time underscore the proceedings (there also seems to be a really well composed soundtrack), everything played rather strongly all across the board. This is one of those movies that keeps things moving by having music that grabs its listeners every step of the way There is a great deal of strength when it gets merged with the images and all of this sounded really well leveled for this release.
The front cover of this DVD showcases Cheadle and Ejiofor in their 1960s garb. There is a gold tint added to this that seems to add a few years to these characters. The back of this release has some images from the movie (some of which seem like production stills), a description of what Talk to Me is about, a Bonus Features listing, a cast list and technical specs.
I must admit that I think Don Cheadle will probably get an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Petey Greene. There is such strength to his performance that it makes almost all of the other characters (who are all quite well acted), play really well. What was most impressive about Cheadle was the fact that this character was a lot different than the characters he normally plays. Well, let me just say that it complimented a long list of characters. Cheadle brings a frankness and a depth to this role that I really have a hard time putting together where Don ends and Petey begins. Yet, it's because of Cheadle's ability to add levity to this role that we come to see just how big of a heart Petey Greene really did have.
I think it's really sad that in this day and age unless a movie has some amazing fantastical elements, it often goes unnoticed in the filmmaking marketplace. Unfortunately, it seems like Talk to Me was very much one of those movies. However, hopefully it will be "discovered" on DVD and from there maybe gain traction when Oscar Season comes. With the DVD being available and Focus Features being able to push it... I have feeling we haven't heard the last from Talk to Me.
Talk to Me was released July 13, 2007.