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Thursday, August 21, 2008

More Movies You Might Not Know

I'm adding two titles to my Movies You Might Not Know list, both of which are playing on cable this week.

First is Paul Mazursky's "Moon Over Parador," a comedy with Richard Dreyfuss as actor Jack Noah, who looks just like Alfonse Simms, the dictator of a Central-American nation. When Simms dies, the dictator's Macheavellian number two man (Raul Julia) puts Noah in his place, complete with a semi-Hispanic accent even worse than Al Pacino's in "Scarface." If the plot sounds like Ivan Reitman's "Dave" in a banana republic, it is, but this one was five years earlier. "Parador" features Sonia Braga as the dictator's mistress and cameo appearances by Sammy Davis Jr., Dick Cavett, Ed Asner, Ike Pappas, and Jonathan Winters -- plus Mazursky as the dictator's mother, of all things.

Then there's "Talk To Me," with Don Cheadle as ex-con Petey Greene, who was one of the top radio personalities in Washington, DC, from the late 60s through the early 80s. Greene was more than just a disc jockey -- he was one of the first to incorporate comedy, commentary about social issues, and listener phone calls in a style that later influenced Howard Stern, among others. Greene became the voice of the black community in DC, the man they turned to during traumatic occasions like the assassination of Martin Luther King. Cheadle is flat-out terrific in the role, with strong support from Chiwetel Ejiofor as Dewey Hughes, the program director who put Greene on the air at WOL-AM (where the Hughes family empire began, eventually becoming Radio One, the top black-owned radio broadcaster in the country). There's nice supporting work from Martin Sheen and Cedric The Entertainer, too.

See my whole Movies You Might Not Know List for more.