Thursday, January 15, 2009


Let me start this really quick and unspoiler like review by saying that I see a LOT of bad movies and I read a LOT of bad scripts. As a screenwriter, I'm always looking at the work of others either as inspiration or in an effort to learn even more about this often arduous craft that I have chosen as a career. So when I received an invite to attend an early screening of the soon to be released movie "Notorious," I entered the theater with absolutely no expectations of the movie to be anything but another lame attempt by Hollywood to put out a murky biopic that would only tell contrived pieces of the story. Tag on to this, a conversation I had with a friend last weekend about how she'd heard the movie sucked.
So, I decided to disregard the reservations I had about the film and go check it out anyway. Cause I loved me some Biggie Smalls and I figured that if nothing else, I'd be entertained by the music and the stroll down memory lane - back when Hip-Hop was just getting good. About thirty minutes into the film, I knew three, the actors were doing a fantastic job, two, my friend was dead wrong about the movie sucking, and three, that it was gonna be a tear jerker when the manly man sitting next to me asked for a tissue cause he "thinks it's gonna be a tear jerker." About an hour later, when the movie credits rolled (and even they were creative), I sat in my seat for a few moment's trying to gather my thoughts about the film and came to one conclusion, this movie was flawless!
The music and concerts portrayed in the film made me miss the 90's terribly but at the same time I was proud that I was old enough to experience and enjoy the essence of that era in music. The cinematography, which I can sometimes overlook, was something to behold. I actually felt like I was in Brooklyn and everything just felt authentic. The actors were ALL on point and Jamal "Gravy" Woolard was downright haunting as Biggie. Somebody give this dude an award
because it can't be easy playing somebody that everybody knew and respected. Kudos to the casting directors and to Ms. Wallace for choosing such a perfect cast.
After taking it all in, I had questions. Mainly how did George Tillman Jr. (Director) and Reggie Rock Bythewood (Screenwriter) pull off such a touching and inspirational masterpiece without it feeling like the typical ghetto mess of a movie that Hollywood tends to put out when it comes to black films. Since there was a Q&A afterwards, I hoped to soon find out. During the Q&A, Bythewood spoke about how he initially wasn't interested in coming aboard the project to rewrite the script because he wasn't sure about the subject matter. However, after figuring out the theme of the film, "Biggie becoming a man," he made a connection and was able to tell the story from that perspective. Tillman spoke about how close he was to Bythewood during the process of completing the script and filming the movie and how their teamwork paid off with the uberly cohesive movie we saw up on the screen.
You have to go see this movie!..and I dont mean bootleg!!
Eventhough I'm not sure that the younger generation is ever gonna fully get the complete picture of what happened during the legacy of The Notorious B.I.G and 2pac, I think this movie will give them, as well as hip-hop outsiders, a birds eye view of the greatness that they sadly missed out on. A greatness so powerful that by the end of watching "Notorious," you just want to get in a time machine and go back to then -- when black was still black, rappers knew how to freestyle, and Biggie and Pac were the Kings of the throne that was 90's Hip-Hop.