'Notorious' Delivers Compelling Performances PDF Print E-mail
By Seth E. Davis -- Black College Wire   

"Notorious," one of the most highly anticipated films of 2009, presents an irresistable mixture of iconic celebrities, sex, drugs and hip hop.

Directed by George Tillman Jr., the biopic chronicles the life of slain rapper, Christopher Wallace, a.k.a. Notorious B.I.G., played by Jamal Woolard.

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Official movie poster
The film displays his insecure adolescence, drug dealing days, rise to infamous platinum-selling rapper and the untimely drive by shooting that claimed his life at 24.

High points of the film include the actors and their performances. The ensemble cast includes Angela Basset, Derek Luke, Antonique Phillips, Marc John Jeffries and Anthony Mackie; playing the parts of Voletta Wallace, Sean "Diddy" Combs, Faith Evans, Lil Cease and Tupac Shakur, respectively, to the tee.

Preceding the film was the controversy surrounding artist Lil Kim, because of how she felt she was portrayed in the film.

Naturi Naughton stole the show by going balls-to-the-wall to portray the sex symbol, such as scenes showcasing how Lil Kim honed her image as the raunchy rap super star, yet showing her vulnerability, love and admiration for B.I.G.

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Angela Basset
The film also provided scenes to tell her story and transition from mistress to rap protégé.

Kudos must be given to the cinematographer. The scenery and lighting provide as much drama and emotion as the actors themselves.

An example is the scene where B.I.G. performs his controversial song, "Who Shot Ya?" at the height of the East Coast vs. West Coast rivalry.

The scene's darkness and use of red spotlighting gives it eeriness that the actual moment may have had in real life.

One of the many highlights of the film can also be considered one of its negative aspects: The film moves with a swift and deliberate pace.

It provides enough story line time in Wallace's childhood to understand the rapper's background.

However, the storyline dramatically speeds up between the dropping of his first CD and his death.

Through the course of B.I.G.'s career, he gained a considerable amount of weight.

Wardrobe tried to pay attention to this by adding a pillow to Woolard's stomach. This proves that the greatest special effects are the subtlest ones you do not notice.

The film also skims over Lil Kim's miscarriage of Wallace's child, Wallace's other children, and it tends to make him the sympathetic character, even when he is in the wrong.

"Notorious" serves its role as a biopic by informing the audience of different aspects of the person's life, yet also being entertaining.

I recommend "Notorious" for everyone, B.I.G. fan or not.

Seth E. Davis writes for The Meter, the Tennessee State University student newspaper, which originally published this article.

Movie reviews represent the opinions of the individual writers and do not reflect the views of Black College Wire.

Posted Feb. 02, 2009
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