In this movie based on the early days of Def Jam Recordings, up-and-coming manager Russell Walker has all the hottest acts on the record label Krush Groove records, including Run-D.M.C., Dr... See full summary »
A chronicle of the life Charley Pride, from his start as a Negro League baseball player, to his stint in the army, and his remarkable career as a country musician, an endeavor overseen by his wife, Rozene.
IFC screened this film Christmas Day, and it was a nifty Christmas present! Although I'm not a native Memphian (I landed here in 1989), the opening scenes quickly established Memphis as the setting using a number of easily recognizable landmarks, and managed to portray a very realistic and at the same time sentimental view of the city. So I said to myself, "A movie about Memphis, cool!" and on that basis decided to keep watching.
The next attractor for me was Eric Tate's physical resemblance to someone I know and like personally. So I developed a strong emotional connection to Eli from his very first scene. And then the plot line about Eli's reluctant involvement in a car theft ring hit home with me as well, as I was victimized by just such a ring within two weeks of relocating to Memphis in '89. So within the first few minutes of the film I was hooked three ways. And you know what, it just got better!
Although it took me awhile longer, I did connect with Harper, and I must say Lindsey Roberts stole the acting show with her end-of-the-film closeup portrayal of Harper's grief-stricken heartbreak over the tragedy of Eli's self-sacrifice and Amanda's mis-timed ignorance of it. A great dramatic moment! Nobody with normal emotions could look at Harper's face in that ending scene and not feel the tears welling up in sympathy. I certainly did.
Lake Latimer's Amanda is also poignant and touching. Such a good job playing the exquisitely talented but shy, suffering, lonely introvert with no intimate friends beyond her cello. An unusual, even unique, beauty graces her performance. Especially in the scene where she is alone in Eli's room inspecting his model cars -- Amanda's repressed sexuality longing for expression with Eli, in inner tension with her innocent shyness and fear of intimacy, and the young actresses' body language and facial expressions betraying the struggle. Great stuff from a previously unknown but promising new talent.
The only disappointing element I found is the relatively stiff and somewhat unrealistic, if not hokey, attempts at depicting physical violence and its resulting wounds. Thankfully, the fight scenes in this film are few in number -- the fake blows are more obvious than in an old Western and I found myself wanting to laugh during these serious moments of violence. And there is nowhere near enough bleeding from Eli following his presumed fatal knife wound in the belly. But really a minor distraction from the overall quality of story and characterizations.
The supporting cast does an equally complimentary job. And then the ending credits reveal this film was nearly a one-man production. How about Craig Brewer as writer, director, photographer, editor, and co-producer! Yowza. What a fantastic debut, I'll be getting all my friends to see this one. And I hope one day to stop by the P&H Cafe on Madison and maybe meet Wanda in person -- what a gas.
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