Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A Few Stray Thoughts on Get on Up

Boseman as James Brown

Opening this week is the James Brown biopic Get On Up (2014) from the The Help's Tate Taylor. Now I loved The Help and thought it a throwback to 1940s "women's movie" that I love so much. So many actresses, actressing. I was in heaven. Here are a few things I had in mind after catching Get on Up.

- Chadwick Boseman is great as James Brown. Ferocious and committed. He's got the moves and he's got the spirit. This should be a star making role. While it's Brown we hear singing, Boseman brings the energy and it never looks like he's lip syncing. He will definitely contend for a Golden Globe in the comedy/musical category and be in the long list for an Oscar but I think will not be nominated.

- The movie is very entertaining. While the jumping in chronology was irritating at first the story moved fast propelled by Brown's songs and Boseman's performance that after a while I didn't mind.

- While the movie was entertaining I don't think it will be as popular as The Help. It's a bit more idiosyncratic and less emotional. But nice to see Tate Taylor stretching and trying something more than a straight through biopic.

Davis as Brown's mother, Susie

- Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis have tiny parts. Spencer's is tinnier. At least Davis' character gets an emotional arc and a fantastic scene with Boseman later in the movie. Both of them raise the emotional stakes and it pays off in drama. And no Davis doesn't outright win the battle, Boseman is her equal so we are the winners.

- The other actor who shines besides Boseman is True Blood's Nelsan Ellis as Brown's confidant Bobby Byrd. It is a subtle sweet performance fitting the second fiddle role Byrd played in Brown's life.

- The movie does well with historical context. Fitting in Vietnam War and Dr King's assassination into Brown's story in a linear illuminating way.

- Brandon Smith appears in a couple of scenes as Little Richard. He brings with him a jolt of energy and a wild sexiness. I wanted more!

All in all an enjoyable couple of hours. Did you see it yet? What did you think? Are you planning on catching it? Tell all in the comments.

1 comment:

Candice Frederick said...

I'm really glad to hear that Nelsan Ellis was great in it, as was Boseman. I was worried that it wasn't as emotional as it should be, given the character we're talking about (sounds like that is a weak point, based on your review). Glad you found it entertaining.