Friday, January 23, 2009
To properly review the film Notorious, I felt like I needed the expert opinion of someone more deeply rooted in Hip Hop, so I saw the movie with my brother.
I wanted to get his opinion on the dialogue, did it come across as authentic? Or did they try too hard to find a balance between what an outsider thinks the culture sounds like and language accessible to all.
I knew Tupac and Biggie's cross-over cuts, but I've never been big into Hip Hop or Rap, so my opinion on whether the actors portraying them really represented their essence, isn't worth much. I can say that the actor, Jamal Woolard playing Notorious B.I.G is a natural, with a lot of heart. I also feel Angela Bassett wasn't the best choice to play Biggie's single, hard-working, trying to make good and keep her son out of trouble mother. They have to work too hard to make Angela Bassett look & seem ordinary. She's better suited to roles that have her being fierce, sexy, corporate -more fabulous.
Surprisingly, The actor, Derek Luke, playing Sean (Puffy, P Diddy, Diddy) Combs, was indistinguishable and the character's influence on Biggie's success was played modestly. As Executive Director, I expected Combs to make himself look bigger than life in the movie, but he used admirable constraint, evenly allowing his character to be goofy at times.
Unless you were living under a rock, you knew about the whole East Coast/ West Coast feud, but to tell you the truth, I wasn't sure if Tupac died before Biggie or after. (It's before). Again, I can't comment on whether the story told leading up to both of their deaths, seemed legitimate.
So my brother's review - "It was decent" which, believe it or not, is high praise coming from him. He's a man of few words and a laid back demeanor.
For me, I did enjoy the film. I love Biopics. I never stop being intrigued by the rise and fall of fame. In this case, Chris Wallace goes from a sheltered (in the Ghetto) nerd, to a drug dealer, to a convict, to a rap artist. Not a unique tale, but one worth telling.
Rapping not only serves this over-sized hustler as a way off of the streets, but he uses his gift of gab on the ladies with devastating effect. I always wondered how he got Faith Evans. For the most part, all he has to do is utter "You know I got choo" and the women are his.
[Director: George Tillman, Jr., writer/director of Soul Food]
[Writers: Reggie Rock Bythewood and Cheo Hodari Coker]
Rating: Pretty Middle Toe