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Thread: "Get On Up!"

  1. #1
    Sgt. At Arms Worf101's Avatar
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    Nov 2003
    Troy, New York

    "Get On Up!"

    I was initially reluctant to see this film because my relationship to James Brown was/is so long and intricate. We both lived in Jamaica, Queens at the same time. I bought his records, saw his shows... danced to his music all my life. The first song I ever learned (sans sheet music) was one of his. He was an idol of mine. Hollywood is rarely faithfull or kind to idols of any stripe... even more so when the subject has large and obvious feet of clay. Still I felt the movie was good as entertainment and information. There's a great deal that is not shown about Mr. Brown, particularly in his later years but those problems are well known... what was not well known was his early life in abject poverty and abuse as well as his life long relationship with Bobby Byrd. Last time I saw James Brown was at the Proctor's Theatre in Schenectady, NY and Bobby Byrd was there... as always, right by James side.

    The film is most often compared to "Ray" but that's a disservice to both films. Ray was linear, straight forward and had a defined beginning middle and end. "Get on Up" is distinctly non-linear. One minute you're running through rural Georgia, the next you're in a burning cargo plane over Viet Nam. One minute you're in prison for "robbing a suit", the next minute you're on the T.A.M.I TNT showing Mick Jagger (who is an executive producer of this film) and the rest of the Stones how it's supposed to be done. It can be a disconcerting at times but eventually the hopping and jumping settles down and you get to the heart of the subject. Also James
    Brown often breaks the third plane looking and talking directly to the camera.

    Chadwick Boseman, last scene tearing around the base paths as Jackie Robinson in "42", is amazing here as Brown, particularly since Boseman is almost a foot taller thant he diminutive Brown was. His dancing prowess does the real Brown justice. Thankfully they didn't try to make Boseman sing like James, they used James Brown's real vocals in all singing. Equally impressive Nelsan Ellis as Bobby Byrd, Ellis can usually be seen on Sunday Nights on HBO's "True Blood" as the flambouyant Lafayette. Both men are better than competent actors and play off one another quite well. There's really not a bad performance in the bunch and that's rare from an ensemble piece.
    All in all I give the film a solid "B" and feel that most people and especially musicians of all stripes, will enjoy the film


  2. #2
    Oldest join date recoveryone's Avatar
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    Yea, what he said! uh!!!!!
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  3. #3
    Phila combat zone JoeE SP9's Avatar
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    Jun 2003
    Philadelphia, PA
    Thanks Worf101. I had been wondering how much Hollywood had screwed up the "real" story in the interest of satisfying a white movie audience. Your review has made me want to see this flick.
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