Michael Genet

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Talk to Me Review


Good
Two biopics opened this year (within weeks of each other) that analyze gifted men who rise to powerful positions in their chosen professions before eroding beneath the fringe benefits of their unexpected success. Yet beyond that thematic connection, the movies could not be more different.

The first, Leon Ichaso's El Cantante, scrubs away crucial details when recollecting the life of salsa singer Hector Lavoe, leaving an empty shell that begs for further insight. But Talk to Me takes the opposite approach, constructing such a complete image of proud and passionate radio host Ralph Waldo "Petey" Greene that we immediately understand why the deep flaws in his personality could only have led to his downfall.

Continue reading: Talk to Me Review

She Hate Me Review


Grim
She Hate Me borrows its title from "He Hate Me," a.k.a. Rod Smart of the XFL (the now-defunct WWE-sponsored extreme football league), but just as this pointless non-sequitur of a title has nothing to do with the film it adorns, Spike Lee's latest tosses together largely unrelated social commentary, broad humor, and nonsensical racial and sexual stereotypes in a vain attempt to critique modern-day romance and big business. Beginning with close-ups of billowing U.S. currency which culminate in the image of a George W. Bush-decorated three-dollar bill, and ending with a goofy "go forth and procreate, young man" rallying cry for its whorish African-American protagonist, the film is structured like a series of punch lines aimed squarely at what Lee sees as America's racist, corrupt white power structure. Too bad its story - about courageous whistle-blowing, lesbian procreation, and a black man's need to stand up, take responsibility for his actions, and do the right thing - doesn't do almost anything right.

Lee's initial target for censure is the crooked corporate culture that fosters brazenly greedy and duplicitous companies such as Enron and Worldcom. Jack Armstrong (Anthony Mackie) is a vice president at a pharmaceutical company whose new HIV cure has been rejected by the FDA. When he discovers a conspiracy orchestrated by the corporation's arrogant, racist CEO (Woody Harrelson) and his ruthless Martha Stewart-ish boss (Ellen Barkin) to cook the books and keep employees and shareholders in the dark about the new drug's ineffectiveness, Jack rats out his superiors to the SEC, and the price for betraying "the family" is immediate dismissal. As luck would have it, though, a new money-making venture falls directly into his, ahem, lap - his ex-fiancé Fatima (Kerry Washington), who left him for another woman, now wants to pay him $10,000 to impregnate her and her Dominican girlfriend. Before long, Armstrong - in some sort of filthier version of the Patrick Dempsey '80s cult classic Loverboy - is occupying his time spreading his seed through NYC's upper-crust lesbian community (which includes Monica Bellucci as a Mafioso don's daughter) for wads of cash.

Continue reading: She Hate Me Review

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