Get On Up

Posted on August 2, 2014

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Get On Up – Known as everything from Mr. Please, Please, Please to the Godfather of Soul, James Brown requested to always be called Mr. Brown. Chadwick Boseman does a knock-out job of playing the super-talented musician. Considered a musical genius, Brown had only a seventh grade education but he knew how to promote James Brown better than anyone else. He developed his act by watching and copying others. The theatrics, the howl, the high hairstyle came from a black preacher, gospel singers and Little Richard. The fancy footwork was his own.
His childhood was dreadful, his mother (Viola Davis) not only abandoned him but later denied him, his father left him with Aunt Honey (Octavia Spencer) who paid him to pimp, and someone had him boxing blindfolded with one hand tied behind as entertainment – all this happened by the age of 10. He’s angry at white folks although most of his abuse seemed to come from blacks. He had an overinflated sense of self and mistreated his band members and his wives. He needed no one’s help yet needed everyone’s adoration. Best friend Billy Byrd (Nelsan Ellis) respected Brown’s talent and was content to live in his shadow for many years.
Produced by Mick Jagger and Brian Glazer, directed by Tate Taylor, there are some excellent performances by all of the above as well as Dan Aykroyd who plays manager Ben Bart. Drug use was only slightly alluded to once with a joint being laced with something. You can’t help but suspect it was a bigger factor in his life – I just remember him sweating so much. Boseman must have taken a lesson from the other Godfather, Marlon Brando, and talked so that you couldn’t understand him.

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Posted in: August 2014