Friday was a good day off. I spent the early part of the day researching SQL Server 2005 and data warehousing. When I'd need a break I'd turn to email and exchange some conversation and music with my old friends, Archie and John. There's an old 80s album by Shriekback that has never seen a proper CD release. I had found a copy made from the European vinyl release (the better version as the U.S. was released without the band's input on the remix) and shared it with the guys. Archie was particularly excited as he wanted to play around with some new sound cleaning software.
That afternoon I met the co-signer and we headed across the lake to meet with Miss Sophiakitty. (I'm sorry for the pseudonyms, but neither wish to have their names mentioned online). We went down to the Zig Zag Cafe where I met Murray, the bartender, for the first time. He made a drink for us using some Estonian bitters that a friend brought back from Europe as a present. It was quite good, as are all of Murray's drinks.
After drinks and appetizers we wandered the Market looking for a place to dine. Several spots had long lines, which is to be expected at the height of tourist season. Surprisingly, Etta's Seafood was able to sit us as a walk in right away. Well, "surprisingly" until we saw their prices. Etta's has raised their prices to the level of Anthony's Homeport. That's too bad as it will make me think twice before dining there again. However, I should note that the meal was wonderful. Miss Sophiakitty and I each enjoyed the basil ravioli with lovely cherry tomatoes and chevre (though, there weren't many raviolis on the dishes). The co-signer enjoyed the pork loin with carrot succotash (quite tasty, that). We shared a bottle of Chinook Rose with dinner and it turned out to be a delightful match for the meals. For dessert we enjoyed a piece of the banana cream pie (which I had never had before), split 3 ways - which was perfect. As lush and tasty as this pie is, it's just too rich and too large a serving to be enjoyed by one person.
The co-signer and I dropped off Miss Sophiakitty at her place, then headed back across the lake. We stopped in Bellevue at the Lincoln Square Cinemas. I wanted to spend some time on my day off alone with my love and this would be it. The movie I wanted to see, Talk To Me, didn't begin until 10:25. Usually that's a really late show/night for me, but I decided to go for it. The thing is, if I have a reason to be entertained and awake, then I have no problems staying up. I bought the tickets and we headed over to The Parlor to kill the hour before the film. In order to stay awake, I had a coffee drink.
Talk To Me was well worth the time. Don Cheadles turns in a terrific performance as Petey Green, an ex-con from Washington, D.C. who pursues a career as a DJ in the 60s and 70s and goes on to become a city institution. In fact, the entire cast does a great job. It's a wonderful mixture of comedy and drama. The early part of the film is much comedy based on an odd character attempting to work within a straight laced community. The film takes a turn when, in 1968, Martin Luther King is shot and riots break out in D.C. Petey Green (this is based on a real story) took to the airwaves to argue for anger without destruction. It was a turning point in the man's life and his career.
If there are problems with the film they stem from 2 sources. First, it's a film and as such it cannot begin to tell the tale of a man's life the way a book can do that. As such, we get hints and shortcuts around stories rather than a full fleshed portrayal of a rounded human being. Glimpses are generally not acceptable when trying to view history. However, we're talking about distilling a man's life - 59 years - into 2 hours and therefore glimpses are what we're going to get. Secondly, the film does rely on some stereotypes. Petey's wife, for instance, while being magnificently played, is a character who relies more on stereotypes than depth (this is due to the script; not actress Traji P. Henson). Early on, Petey himself seems to rely primarily on his demeanor and outfit, though the writers drop a moment of self doubt in once in a while, we never really get to peel off the facade and understand the origins of that emotion. As the film develops, it gets better at dealing with this stuff, but only marginally so. Again, this is in part due to the limitations of film. Perhaps the writers should have limited the scope of the time line of Petey Green's life that they were going to focus on?
Having said all of that, Talk To Me is a thoroughly enjoyable movie. Don Cheadles performance is worth the price of admission. The fact that the other actors keep up with him is the payoff. Despite my misgivings laid out above, it's an entertaining piece of work filled with moments that will make you laugh and others that will induce tears. How good is this film? When was the last time outside of a children's film that you can recall audience members breaking out in applause at the end? That's how good it is.
One more complaint: Why is this film only playing in 3 theaters in the Seattle metro area? The co-signer and I are perplexed about this. If it is because the film is being perceived as a "black movie", then why isn't it playing in more theaters in areas with larger black populations? Because it's an east coast based story is the distributor worried that it won't have legs on the west coast? I don't know what the reasons are, but this film deserves to be seen by a larger audience and the distributor is shorting the people in Seattle. Sure, we're seeing ads for the flick, but it's not easily accessible and that's a damn shame.
After the film we met a nice couple outside of the theater. I was waiting for the co-signer and the wife in the couple was waiting for her husband, both emerging from the restrooms. She and I were reading the poster board, promoting the story in the theater hallway. We recognized each other because the 4 of us were the last ones to leave the theater (this is common for the co-signer and I as we tend to sit through all of the credits, if nothing else, to enjoy the music).
"Wonderful film" said the woman.
"Indeed. I liked it a whole lot. Great acting, good story."
"We lived on the east coast during that time and I never heard of the man."
"I'm from the Detroit area and I've never heard of him either."
Eventually, our spouses joined us. We spoke briefly and then went our separate ways. I suspect that if the evening had been younger, we might have joined each other for dinner and had a good time discussing the film and getting to know one another. Still, allowing that possibility was a lovely way to cap a good day off.