Nike Sportswear’s Los Angeles headquarters at the historical Montalbán Theatre reopened its doors last Tuesday night with a screening of “Notorious” as part of its very successful Cinema Tuesdays series, curated by Flux.
Cinema Tuesdays are now monthly events, dedicated to all things cinema, special guests and of course, screenings of films that resonate with today’s culture.
Cinema Tuesdays are an integral part of Nike Sportswear and The Montalbán Theatre experience and will run until the end of the year. The admission is free with RSVP.
Tuesday night’s screening of “Notorious”, directed by George Tillman Jr., who previously wrote and directed films like “Soul Food” and “Men of Honor”, is a film based on life and death of one of the most recognized figures of 90’s hip-hop culture, Christopher “The Notorious B. I. G. ” Wallace.
The screening was followed by Q&A with George Tillman Jr, Derek Luke who plays “Puffy” and Naturi Naughton as “Lil Kim.”
The pre-screening party was, as always, a blast with drinks provided by Belvedere Vodka and music by DJ MC Lyte with DJ Smiles Davis. The flock of celebrities like Macy Gray, Flo Rida, Sharon Stone, and Joe Hahn were mingling amongst the crowd.
“Notorious” takes upon a somewhat controversial subject matter, but the film does a rather good job of recounting the events of BIG’s short life, career as a crack dealer, troubled relationship with his mother, his lovers, music, and struggle to reconnect with his once friend 2Pac.
While the film has some big name Hollywood actors, most of the film’s cast are first timers, and the casting is superb. Jamal Woolard who plays Biggie Smalls is fantastic, his look, manners, accent, personality are hauntingly reminiscent of the late BIG. According to the director George Tillman Jr., Jamal, who they found in Brooklyn, is a rapper and BIG fan who went as far as gaining 60 and more pounds to an already impressive 240 pound frame to portray the larger than life 300 pound hip-hop legend. The film was shot in
Brooklyn and LA, in authentic locations.
The supporting cast who plays Voletta Wallace, Faith Evans, Puffy, Lil Kim, D-Roc and 2Pac are excellent in their roles, including Anthony Mackie who had the challenging role of playing Tupac (2Pac) Shakur. 2Pac is just as recognized and loved as BIG so playing 2Pac is a massive undertaking.
The film touches upon East Coast vs. West Coast rivalry, but doesn’t make it too prominent, nor does it choose sides, after all the film is about BIG and his personal life. The soundtrack is as expected fantastic.
“Notorious” is a biography so anyone who is familiar with the subject matter will know the story. It’s great entertainment and very much worth the price of admission. “Notorious” opened in theaters on January 16th.
Words by Yevgeniy Shukhman
Images by Marla Aufmuth