DVD Notorious [DVD] [Checkpoint; Sensormatic; Widescreen] (DVD 4649685),
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Notorious [DVD] [Checkpoint; Sensormatic; Widescreen]
Region 1 USA/CA (
The dramatic retelling of the life, improbable rise, and violent fall of rapper Christopher Wallace (aka the Notorious B.I.G.), NOTORIOUS plays like A STAR IS BORN set to a rattling gangsta snare. With crisp direction by George Tillman Jr., producer of the BARBERSHOP series, the film is briskly paced and strikes a worthy balance between sensationalized celebrity biopic and behind-the-scenes drama. Angela Bassett anchors the latter with a nuanced performance as Voletta, Wallace's long-suffering single mother who attempts to shelter him from the mean streets of Bed-Stuy.
With deep involvement by those who knew him best--the real Voletta Wallace and Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs (played dynamically by Derek Luke) co-produced--the film nonetheless unflinchingly portrays Biggie's troubled history as a teenage crack dealer, his chronic infidelity and poor fathering skills, and his own role in stoking the ludicrous coastal rivalry that claimed both his and Tupac Shakur's lives. As it presents Biggie's side of the murders in boldface, one wonders if a more independent eye would cast Shakur and his cohorts in the villain role so starkly. Documentary quibbles aside, NOTORIOUS delivers an impactful tribute to its subject's genius--revealing to fans and neophytes alike the microphone skills, narrative chops, and fresh vision that made Wallace one of hip-hop's greatest all-time MCs. Largely, this is due to the ace performance by Jamal Woolard, an amateur rapper who packed on 50 pounds to play the hulking gangsta, and nails his mordant charisma and conflicted inner life with a star turn every bit as on point as Jamie Foxx's Ray Charles or Val Kilmer's Jim Morrison.
- for pervasive language, some strong sexuality including dialogue, nudity, and for drug content
Manufacturer Part Number (MPN): 2258064
Derek Luke, Anthony Mackie, Antonique Smith, Angela Bassett, Dennis White, Julia Pace Mitchell, Naturi Naughton, Jamal Woolard
4 stars out of 5 -- "As a biography interested in an honest swath of Wallace's life, NOTORIOUS' broad appeal will welcome and satiate both the devout and the curious..."
"[R]easonably faithful to the facts of Biggie's life and wholeheartedly devoted to burnishing his myth."
New York Times
"Most noteworthy is the movie's stunning cinematography and powerful soundtrack....The ensemble is solid, and Jamal Woolard is strong as Biggie."
"[L]ike Biggie, NOTORIOUS has fine time along the way, with Woolard channeling the rapper's sweetness and wit as comfortably as his pathos....Through it all are the rhymes and the music, hugely enjoyable in their own right..."
Los Angeles Times
"NOTORIOUS is a rock-solid biopic with a foolproof rise-and-fall storyline and a warmly nuanced performance by Jamal Woolard as iconic rapper Christopher Wallace -- aka Biggie Smalls..."
"NOTORIOUS is a luridly unapologetic trip through the violence, hunger, verbal bravado, and money fever of the hip-hop world, which it views as both liberating and destructive....NOTORIOUS has a fascinating trajectory..." -- Grade: B+
"NOTORIOUS is a good film in many ways, but its best achievement is the casting of Jamal Woolard..."
"Woolard, a Brooklyn rapper known as Gravy, has not previous acting experience. Yet his portrayal amounts to a Biggie resurrection....He's a knockout."
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