Saturday, February 02, 2008

Talk to Me, or On The Soundtrack-On-Poster Rule

Proves the old rule: posters that highlight the stellar soundtrack are probably promoting mediocre films.

Tell it to the high, tell it to the low. It was true in the old days when you got gypped on Ninja Turtles 2 cause the poster offered you Vanilla Ice; it was true a few years ago when that damnable Haunted Hill remake had a poster offering you Marilyn Manson; it's true now, when Talk To Me tries to get you in the door by offering you "a vibrant sixties soundtrack". Wake the hell up! Big badge on poster espousing soundtrack EQUALS mediocre movie. It's scientific!

Talk To Me does make a stab at letting the vitality of the Sixties soul music scene provide its claim to a pulse. Maybe this is where it slips up: not only is that soundtrack a K-Tel Best of Protest Sounds compilation at best, totally bereft of hidden gems or tonal surprises, but whenever things get really heavy, the soundtrack just throws up its hands and gives up: "A song that would capture the violent despondence of the nation’s soul when Dr. King was shot? Hell, I got nothing - get some fool in here with a synthesiser, play some Movie of the Week shit over it or something."

But deeper than this problem of faith in its own lifeblood, Talk to Me just doesn't know who it's about. The top billing goes to Cheadle, whose spirited turn is the only thing about the pic qualifying it for comparison with Talk Radio or even Pump Up the Volume. But his is relegated to a supporting role for Ejiofor, who gets the first shot, the last thought, and everything in between of any consequence.

And the problem is that his just isn't a very interesting story.

[originally appeared on Flicks]

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