Directed by Tate Taylor, Written by Jez Butterworth, John-Henry Butterworth and Steven Baigelman
Get your funk on guys!! I didn’t know anything about James Brown apart from the fact that the ragga/jungle tracks I listen to sample his shit non-stop. I also have never really watched many biopics, so this was new type of movie for me. Perhaps I need to change my views towards biopics, as this film nailed it. I have never seen the lead actor before, but goddamn, James Brown has been resurrected!! Chadwick Boseman, a name that rings no bells for me, was incredible; his moves, his voice; holy hell, this movie has turned me into a massive James Brown fan! Simply a phenomenal performance that will surely garner some attention.
I like how the movie brought up, but didn’t zealously hammer home, a broad spectrum of messages, from being abandoned as a child, to the clash of music and capitalism; the zeal that Brown (not unlike Kubrick) had to give the system a good shaking, to the stress of being on top (“I paid the cost to be the boss”, as he says), not to mention the extreme stresses of trying to play music with other people, and just how much bullshit those other people will tolerate.
I felt this film was a little more than a simple biopic, as the humour was very subtle but very well done. My favourite scene was Brown’s manager (Dan Akroyd) trying to compare the ‘rules’ of how music is played live, through promoters etc, to the rigid rules of sports like golf or baseball. There was also another amusing scene of a journalist trying to have Brown explain to her exactly what ‘groove’ is. There other amusing quips sprinkled throughout, including the hilarious opening scene, but humour is not the focus. The final scenes in the chapter GODFATHER OF SOUL were quite moving and lead to a perfect ending.
CONTROL is the only movie I can think of that I have ever seen related to music, as music means a helluva lot to me and for the most part I’d rather listen to it. But this is just as good as CONTROL, and for an entirely different set of (much less depressing) reasons. I am a music-nazi, I can’t listen to albums with filler tracks. As such a die-hard fan of music, I am careful about movies that revolve around music. That being said though, I can’t think of a better way to put across the focus and passion one needs to really make a dent in the musical world than this film. Bravo.
I must watch JERSEY BOYS for comparison, I know by contrast I’ll hate the music in that film, but from what I read it is about the first corporate, business-first band put together by suits. I don’t know how it treats that subject matter, but after seeing this I’d like to find out.
Yet another flick I can’t wait to hit our screens, goddamn Australia, we could not be more behind. This is quite simply a must watch for anyone who loves their music.
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