We need more directors willing to take risks with films like Get Out.
He was known as the Notorious B.I.G., a man-mountain of rap, but behind the image was Christopher Wallace, an overgrown kid who was trying to grow up and do the right thing. The image we know about. The film "Notorious" is more interested in the kid. He was born in Brooklyn, loved his mother (a teacher who was studying for a master's degree), got into street-corner drug dealing because he liked the money, performed rap on the street and at 20 was signed by record producer Sean Combs. Four years later, he was dead.
Documentaries about B.I.G. have focused on the final years of his life. "Notorious" tells us of a bright kid who was abandoned by his father, raised by a mother from Jamaica who laid down the rules and told the kids on the playground he would be famous some day. "You too fat, too black and too ugly," a girl tells him. He just looks at her. He is sweet-tempered, even after being seduced into the street-corner crack business, but he sounds tough in his rap songs -- tough, introspective, autobiographical and a gifted writer.
His demo tape is heard by Sean Combs (Derek Luke), who is seen in the film as a good influence, in part perhaps because he's the movie's executive producer. Combs draws a line between the street as a market, and a place where he wants his artists to be seen. B.I.G. leaves the drug business, and almost overnight becomes a huge star, an East Coast rapper to match the West Coast artists like Tupac Shakur.
Tupac was shot dead not long before B.I.G. was murdered, and the word was they died because of a feud between the East and West Coast dynasties and onetime friends B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur (Anthony Mackie). Another version, in Nick Broomfield's 2002 documentary "Biggie and Tupac," is that both shootings were ordered by rap tycoon Suge Knight and carried out by off-duty LAPD officers in his hire. Broomfield produces an eyewitness and a bag man who says on camera that he delivered the money. The film, perhaps wisely, sidesteps this possibility.