Talk to Me, Kasi Lemmons (2007)

Kasi Lemmons is an African American woman who makes major motion pictures, and good ones, too: first Eve’s Bayou, and now this. I don’t think I can think of any other African American women directors working on big budgets in Hollywood today, but I’d be delighted if someone would write to correct me on that. Talk to Me is a fairly conventional movie, a bio-pic of the DC radio and TV personality Ralph Waldo Emerson “Petey” Greene Jr. (1931-1984), which pits the hero’s incorruptible commitment to the street against his well-intentioned manager’s efforts to bring Petey’s genius before a wider audience. The movie radically simplifies the realities of the story–Petey Greene was a far more cunning and sophisticated political activist than Don Cheadle’s “I’m just a con, y’all” characterization would have you think–but the movie nevertheless succeeds beautifully as a paean to a genuine culture hero and as a pitch-perfect evocation of DC in the 60’s and 70’s. Definitely worth a rental.