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Get Up On It

PostPosted: Sat Nov 29, 2014 4:14 pm
by Garth Cartwright
I recently read The One - The Life & Music Of James Brown by RJ Smith. It is easily both the best music book I've read in recent years and the best biography of any public figure. Superbly written and imaginatively told, Smith describes JB's story from brutal rural poverty to the pinnacle of black American life. Fortunately, he doesn't spend a lot of time on JB's long decline although the angel dust fuelled madness is detailed. A comparison with Ray Charles in inevitable - both coming out of segregation and overcoming all manner of hardship to make remarkable music. JB is a little more likeable than Ray but, at the same time, a dictator who exhausted bands and wives.

So to the biopic which touches on much of what is in the book and functions in a manner similar to Ray and Walk The Line. Jumping between childhood, the road to fame and major events in JB's life - meeting the President, going to Vietnam, meeting up with his long lost mother etc - it tells his story without glossing over much while adding touches of sentimentality that tend to come with such biopics. Overall, it's well done and quite convincing. The main actor gets JB's raspy voice down well altho he is a lot taller and handsomer than JB. The music is, of course, great. A decent film then - a lot more engaging than Mr Turner - if a tad predictable in execution. The problem with the film is trying to cram an epic American life into 2 hours - a mini-series might have worked better. Supposedly there's a good doc' on JB called Mr Dynamite also out - given the choice of the 2 I'd go for the doc'.

Re: Get Up On It

PostPosted: Sat Nov 29, 2014 5:22 pm
by AndyM
Although I know how important and influential and ground-breaking James Brown's music is, I have to admit I've never heard a single track of his that truly thrilled me like the best of Ray Charles or Marvin Gaye or Sly Stone (etc etc) can do. One of my blind spots.

Re: Get Up On It

PostPosted: Sat Nov 29, 2014 6:06 pm
by alister prince
Thanks Garth, I've posted my letter to Santa up the chimney. I'll have a think before going to the movie, I'm wary of biopics. Andy, I disagree with you about JB, I've a soft spot for many of his recordings, they really grab me. I love Ray and Marvin too, I'm not going to get into comparisons, they're all great in their own ways. I first saw JB live on his first gigs in London, Walthamstow on the Friday, Brixton on the Saturday. It was phenominal, to quote him, "pure dynamite". I still think they're among the best gigs I've ever been to; full of knockout music and a brilliant show. A total experience.
Aly

Re: Get Up On It

PostPosted: Sun Nov 30, 2014 1:32 am
by john poole
I'm not a fan of musical biopics either; this at least was not one of the worst that I've seen - a good performance by Chadwick Boseman for the most part, he really had JB's dancing and stage moves down, although recreating James' appearances on the TAMI Show and Ski Party could only seem rather pointless when we are able to see the real thing. Also, I was not that keen on the "remixing" that had been undertaken on some of the music tracks. On the whole no more than partially successful, but I probably enjoyed it more than Ray or Walk The Line.

The documentary Mr. Dynamite does look more promising -
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cibeYcMVRAo
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XXQsOa1Wbcs

Re: Get Down With It

PostPosted: Sun Nov 30, 2014 12:48 pm
by NormanD
Garth Cartwright wrote:A decent film then - a lot more engaging than Mr Turner..
How does it compare with, say, the 1963 March on Washington, or the 1969 Moon landing? Or Vincente Minnelli's "Lust For Life" with Kirk Douglas as Vincent van Gogh (which is far less engaging than Kirk Douglas in "Paths Of Glory", but more engaging than Larry Parks as Al Jolson).

Upping one thing at the expense of another doesn't always work for me. If comparisons aren't apt then maybe they're best left alone.

Re: Get Up On It

PostPosted: Fri Dec 12, 2014 11:20 am
by Garth Cartwright
Norman, that's a very testy response! The comparison stands as they are both newly released biopics made by British/Americans (I think most of the behind the scenes talent in GOU is British) about famous, difficult, pioneering male artists who I have some interest in. That GOU is a lot better - and why this is so - is what's to be debated rather than told there's no debate.

I actually went to Mr Turner on yr Facebook recommendation so you owe me both an explanation of why that epic slice of hammy overacting got you so excited and a pint for sitting through it. My girlfriend fell asleep - an appropriate review.

Re: Get Up On It

PostPosted: Fri Dec 12, 2014 4:56 pm
by NormanD
The excitement's gone out of this one now, Garth. Comparing one thing with another (where there's only a remote comparison) was my main point. Both being biopics is about as far as it gets (hence my Al Jolson example as another music pic). I threw the first two events in just as a couple of random examples that sprang to my mind three weeks ago, or whenever it was.

Of course I'll buy you a drink, but not as a compensatory gesture for a film that made you fidgety for three hours. OK, I'll stretch it to a half.....but only so long as you don't condemn for ever my critical recommendations.

My Facebook post was:

"Mike Leigh's new film, "Mr. Turner". It ain't half good. It's beautifully shot and all the performances are splendid. Local boy Timothy Spall really stands out, and well deserves all the critical praise. He growls, scowls and dominates almost every scene he's in without once over-acting. But the stand-out for me was that almost every one of the female actors was powerfully played, especially Dorothy Atkinson as Turner's doormat of a housekeeper. A wonderful performance.

This is a great film to see in the cinema, it's so visually sharp and well-lit."


And, in addressing a question as to whether it's a return to form for Mike Leigh:

"It's certainly a big sideways step - well-budgeted, shot in several locations, meticulous period detail, a sexually dark undertone. It looks splendid, but its content equals its form. His favourite of mine has been "Topsy Turvy", the Gilbert & Sullivan film, which had similar qualities. This one overtakes it. It's a real anti-Hollywood film."

Re: Get Up On It

PostPosted: Wed Dec 17, 2014 1:07 pm
by Garth Cartwright
My biggest surprise about Mr T was that it started with the artist rich and famous and thus involved lots of sitting around country homes and going to the Royal Academy. Surely his struggle from Covent Garden urchin to gatecrashing the London artistic elite would have made for a better film? Jezz Butterworth - most acclaimed UK playwrite of recent decades - wrote Get On Up. Funny isn't it as I'd have thought he more of a Mike Leigh type scriptwriter! I asked RJ Smith - author of The One - what he made of the movie and he said altho they didn't acknowledge his book (and he's sure they read it) and there are a few inaccuracies he thinks its good and better than Ray and Walk The Line. I agree. So there y'all, go see the JB story!

Re: Get Up On It

PostPosted: Wed Dec 17, 2014 1:33 pm
by NormanD
Garth Cartwright wrote:My biggest surprise about Mr T was that it started with the artist rich and famous and thus involved lots of sitting around country homes and going to the Royal Academy. Surely his struggle from Covent Garden urchin to gatecrashing the London artistic elite would have made for a better film?
I agree with you there, certainly re. the starting point. Some idea of his early life and struggle would have helped the story. But maybe Leigh didn't want to go along with the conventional biographical narrative? He did a similar thing with the Gilbert & Sullivan film, starting with their creative lives stuck in the mud and taking it from there.

Jezz Butterworth's involvement in the JB film seems a strange mix, but if it works - why not? He seems to have a lot of critical credibility now (especially after "Jerusalem", which I never got to see). I'm surprised the reviewers haven't picked up on the film more because of this.