On route to the stage, singer James Brown recalls a life with a turbulent childhood where music was his only constructive release for his passions. A chance demonstration of that in prison led to a new friend who helped get him out and into a musical career. With his fire and creative daring, Brown became a star who defiantly created new possibilities in show business both on and behind the stage in face of racism and conventional thinking. Along the way, James would also become a peacemaker who redefined and raised the African-American community's feeling of self-worth when it was needed most. However, those same domineering passions would lead James Brown alienating everyone around him as his appetites became ever more self-destructive. Only after he hit rock bottom with a serious mistake does Brown realize what he needs to do make his life as the Godfather of Soul truly worthwhile.Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Two viewings in three days, to fully appreciate the magnificent achievement that's on screen. Not one extraneous word, scene, shot or sequence. The whole is as tight as James Brown's hits - or his pants.
The underlying construction of these snapshots of James Brown's life is flawless. Far from being haphazard or out-of-sequence for mere "effect," this non- linear storytelling technique has rarely been used with greater impact. Thankfully, Tate Tayler, Mick Jagger, the other producers and writers, decided AGAINST the boring born-in-a-shack and then this happened, and next that happened, and finally he died structure.
Result? The film has unexpected rhythms that never let go and build to the astonishing, electrifying re-creation of Brown's Paris concert that - even on second viewing - had me jumping out of my seat, fist-pumping the air and screaming, "YES!"
I wasn't alone.
Chadwick Boseman may be the black male Meryl Streep. His technical achievements alone are remarkable: Brown's moves, speech rhythms and timbre - but mainly his lip-syncing to Brown's vocals: flawless!
Even in the final moments, as the aged Brown silences his band, then begins the haunting "Try Me" a capella - in a closeup so tight you practically see Boseman's tonsils, his mouth, tongue placement, breathing and facial emotions are so perfectly and intensely aligned with Brown's voice you'd swear Boseman were doing his own signing.
But Boseman is equally true portraying Brown at any age, any stage, from any distance. You can't fake that level of acting proficiency. Whether he wins best actor, he is certain to (deservedly) be nominated.
Boseman'surrounded by an equally perfect cast, not one of whom rings false: ultimately a tribute to the director - stunningly supported by the script, cinematography and editing.
By comparison, Clint Eastwood's "Jersey Boys" looks exactly like what it is: a tired, clichéd jukebox Broadway musical with great old safe, whitebread hits (distinguished mainly by Frankie Valli's falsetto) and nothing else to write home about.
James Brown, on the other hand, was always in your face. So were (are) Mick Jagger and the Stones. And so, rightly, is "Get On Up" as a rousing cinematic experience that has to be seen to be believed.
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