Saturday, August 9


The Film Fatales get down and get funky.

Get On Up. 2014. PG-13. Rated R. 138 minutes. Starring Chadwick Boseman, Nelson Ellis, Dan Aykroyd, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer. Directed by Tate Taylor. 

A chronicle of James Brown's rise from extreme poverty to become one of the most influential musicians in history. [IMDb]
Please note: Elizabeth was digging tunnels from her house to Fox news while Nicole was seeing this film, and therefore unavailable to post her review.

Oh, I hate to do this. I really do. I had such high hopes for this movie, because if anyone is deserving of a good biopic (in the tradition of and possessing of the same quality of Ray and Walk the Line), it’s the Godfather of Soul himself, Mr. James Brown. But…Get On Up was a real disappointment. And, not – I repeat – not because of the performances (both musical and acting). 

All of the problems with this film derive from its “trying to be too clever” direction and editing. It’s a tricky maneuver, to attempt producing a biopic in anything other than a linear fashion. Some directors are up to the task. Unfortunately, Tate Taylor is not one of those directors, which is astounding, really – considering his work on The Help (2011). I do get what he was trying to do, I do. By jumping back and forth between Brown’s childhood and adulthood, he was establishing how much of the jilted, abandoned, and wounded little boy remained with him his entire life. He was trying to prove why Brown’s arrogance and “go it alone” attitude left him unable to form and retain meaningful relationships, both personal and professional. However, the choppy and stylistic editing and art direction, along with the messy and incoherent structure only served to tire the viewer and leave them with the responsibility to fill in blanks. 

One pet peeve of mine is when the actors are directed to break the fourth wall. Don’t get me wrong, I love that technique when it’s cleverly done—and usually works best in comedies. But, when done incorrectly, it can the viewer feel uncomfortable and bring them out of the film instead of inward. 

Despite that, the performances were all well done, but far and above the rest of the cast is Chadwick Boseman, whose portrayal of James Brown was somewhat paranormal. He must have channeled Brown from the great beyond, because it was at times difficult to tell the difference. His stage moves were impeccable and he nailed the speaking voice. Also, the musical performances were staged well and performed well – and thank God, since so much of this movie revolves around music, it would have been a real shame if those were as terrible as the direction. Fortunately, that is not the case. 

One-half of The Film Fatales give Get on Up 

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