DVD Review: “Talk To Me”

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“Talk to Me” is a biopic about real life Washington DC-based radio DJ and talk show host Petey Green (played by Don Cheadle) who ruled the airways during the turbulent 1960s. It was a time of protest and social unrest. When Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated, the city’s furious and frustrated black population broke into riots and widespread looting. It was Green’s no nonsense talk–often rife with his own rage–that actually restored order to the city.

The film traces Green’s rise to fame–and to his demise. Basically, after he’s released from prison and desperately needs a job, he cons his way on to the air. But he turns out to be so innately brilliant at talking truth to a cadre of very responsive listeners, radio producer Dewey Hughes (Chiwetel Ejiofor) puts his hard-earned job on the line to keep Petey on the air.

The two men bond as personal and professional cohorts–until distinct differences in their lifestyles cause an irreparable rift in their friendship.

Petey Green is an alluring character, and it’s easy to see why director Kasi Lemmons made “Talk To Me” her third feature film (after “Eve‘s Bayou” and “The Caveman‘s Valentine”), and she does a wonderful job of capturing the manic energy of Green and the frenetic tone of the times. The film is an absolute tour de force for both Cheadle and Eliofor, who are a great match, each delivering a fully orchestrated and finely tuned performance.

The film is funny and edgy, always entertaining and, in the end, serves as an important history lesson about society then and now.

The DVD offers deleted scenes, plus detailed background information on the life and times of Petely Green, with the cast commenting on the racial politics of the day, and an additional feature presentation of the lifestyle in P-town (that’s Petey-town, not Provincetown), focusing on the music, fashion and other aspects of the bygone but not forgotten 1960s. It’s a great add to any DVD library.

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