Monday, June 22, 2015

Get On Up

Get On Up
 Get On Up is a movie telling the story of James Brown's life. On one hand, it does some things really right, such as us seeing that Brown wasn't a nice person. On the other, the movie tends to lose traction. The subject is an interesting man, and his history is very compelling, but the movie is a bit disjointed, so we lose that human connection to James Brown.
The movie opens with a brilliant scene, which happened in real life, where James Brown threatened a woman that used his private bathroom in his strip mall. The scene shows that Brown had totally lost it at this point, and it is directed brilliantly. Some of the later scenes seemed to never reach the agitated and edginess that opening conveys. By the way, that incident led to the infamous police chase that Brown led the police on. We get glimpses of it throughout the movie.
The thing the movie does right is revealing the complex nature of James Brown. Brown was truly a bully in every meaning of the word. He would pick on his band members and treat them like second class people. He thought everyone was out to get him. He would belittle even his loyal members, but demanded everyone call him “Mr. Brown”. The movie absolutely shows this in its full glory.
However, the movie also shows the creative side of the man. This was the stronger aspect of the man. To him, every instrument was a drum and had to keep beat. The movie also shows us some interesting way Brown view doing business.
I also love the small cameo from a young Little Richard.
What doesn't work is James Brown stopping and breaking the fourth wall. It works in House of Cards, but not in this movie because it doesn't come across as interesting.
-Chadwick Boseman is James Brown. He’s looks, sounds, and feels the part. He was meant to play this guy. I love the expression Boseman has when he gets real mean with his band-mates.
-Nelsan Ellis plays Bobby Byrd: Booby was Brown’s right-hand man for a very long time. Ellis is brilliant and I hope he gets more roles.
-Dan Aykroyd: Well, Aykroyd actually knew and preformed with James Brown in both Blues Brothers movies. He plays Brown’s business guy. Aykroyd knows R&B and Blues music, so it’s a good olive branch. He’s not in the movie much.
Despite the good acting from most of the outstanding cast, director Tate Taylor’s movie isn’t that compelling and feels a bit more mundane than fascinating. The movie would have probably worked better with a straight narrative than having the story jump around to different time periods. I think the story’s emotional value and payoff is weakened with the disjointed narrative. And, the movie sort of just ends.
Grade: C

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