NOTORIOUS is the story of Christopher Wallace. Through raw talent and sheer determination, Wallace transforms himself from Brooklyn street hustler (once selling crack to pregnant women) to one of the greatest rappers of all time; THE NOTORIOUS B.I.G. Follow his meteoric rise to fame and his refusal to succumb to expectations - redefining our notion of "The American Dream."
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I never thought about this before, but Notorious is the first biopic of a Hip-Hop artist ever. We have seen films about country singers, rock nÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ roll singers, and even films about record companies. But Hip-Hop artists were missing until now. This film is a surprise that was released at the very beginning of 2009. Of course, the film is about the rise of Christopher Wallace (aka Biggie Smalls aka Notorious B.I.G.) and the rap icon he became. We start out seeing B.I.G. as a child growing up in Brooklyn. Notorious B.I.G.Ã¢â‚¬â„¢s son actually plays his father as a kid. And it was a good choice because he resembles his father quite a bit. Size and all. We see the troubles he gets in to with drugs and how Sean Ã¢â‚¬Å“PuffyÃ¢â‚¬Â Combs (played very well by Derek Luke) helped pull him out of it. We all know how NotoriousÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s life ends due to a West Coast vs. East Coast rivalry. And the war cost Tupac and B.I.G. their lives.
Jamal Woolard plays B.I.G. and does it so well. He captures how Notorious appeared to others dressed in his fancy suits and shiny shoes. Also, in the way the rapper carried himself and spoke. Woolard became Notorious B.I.G. I think what is even more amazing is that Woolard has never acted in his life. For the director to cast a guy who looked like B.I.G is one thing. But to find a guy who can become him on screen who has never acted before is amazing.
George Tillman Jr. directed this biopic and did a good job doing so. He focuses on NotoriousÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s rise in the Hip-Hop industry and the legacy he left. However, we also dive in to Christopher WallaceÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s personal life involving his relationships with various women and what kind of father he was and tried to be. He loved women, perhaps even too much. But he was a smooth talker and a charming guy as well. No matter what he did to the ladies, they always seemed to give him another chance. Being able to see the different aspects of his life that made him who he was is why this film works so well. We learn about his career, but also the rest of his life too. If you thought you knew who B.I.G. was you should see this. If you have no idea who he is you should still see this. Either way, you will leave knowing much more than you did before. Oh and the music is good too. This biopic may not get the attention Ray or Walk the Line did, but it should.
At The Movies
Notorious (18A) * * *
Larger than Life Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Bigger in Death!
By ROBERT WALDMAN
True stories can make for riveting movies. Director George Tillman Jr. (Soul Food) leaves no stone unturned in Notorious, a sizzler biography of one high octane pop star. Brought forth by Fox Searchlight Pictures this searing film takes the lid off of one of the biggest rivalries in show business. 123 minutes goes by in a flash at Tinsetown (on Pender, free parking), Empire Studio 12, Colossus and Famous Players Silver City cites around B.C.
Both music fans and those into pop culture should enjoy this insightful look into one of musicÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s biggest stars. Flashbacks are used almost endlessly by filmmakers and here director Tillman perfectly sets the stage for this momentous film that charts the rise and fall of one of rapÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s biggest masterminds.
From childhood to adulthood you canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t help but be enthralled by the Ã¢â‚¬Å“careerÃ¢â‚¬Â of one Christopher Ã¢â‚¬Å“BiggieÃ¢â‚¬Â Wallace. Raised by an adoring mom, Voletta, in Brooklyn, you can sense the tough times this lad faced. Being fat may or may not have contributed to ChristopherÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s plight but more likely being from a single family home with a deadbeat dad raised the ante considerably.
Poor folks living in the ghetto often have no alternative but to turn to Ã¢â‚¬Å“dealingÃ¢â‚¬Â to get by. Egged on by the fast money and material goods other kids and teens were earning early on Christopher was seduced into this grimy underworld. While on the street Christopher showed a particular knack for making rhymes and the rest, as they say, is history. Notorious charts the rise and fall of one of rapÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s leading lights.
Dynamite performances abound in Notorious with some breakout stars. Look for newcomer Jamal Woolard to catch on like wild fire with his freewheeling though compassionate portrayal of a heavyweight singer whose claim to fame was very short-lived indeed. Anyone familiar with life on the road knows all about the pitfalls of touring and here we see ChristopherÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s penchant for the ladies in abundance. No stone is left unturned as we see how this cocky star treats women and the lengths heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll go to make that part of his act. Raunchy lyrics obviously propelled Ã¢â‚¬Å“BiggieÃ¢â‚¬Â to the top of the charts on the east coast but from there the tale gets really freakie.
Competition on the west coast from rap sensation Tupac Shakur is now the stuff of legend and seeing these two masters of the crowd go head to head for ultimate artist of the sound is very well played out. Watching Biggie rise from a neighbourhood singer to a studio heavyweight is also insightful with Derek Luke (Glory Road) highly effective as mentor and Biggie booster Sean Ã¢â‚¬Å“PuffyÃ¢â‚¬Â Combs.
Just a great atmosphere denoting the sound and surroundings from the 80s helps propel Notorious to an honest recreation of that period in time and the men who inspired a ghetto-driven music scene. Great work from Vanessa Basset (Waiting to Exhale) as a conflicted mom alongside Natori Naughton and Julia Pace Mitchell as a few of ChristopherÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s main squeezes helps turn Notorious into a sensational culture shock movement. Even the concerts are well staged and full of life, further making this film a great introduction to a music genre whose time had obviously come.
Read more reviews by Robert at www.moviereviewssite.com