With an appropriately jarring sense of energy, this James Brown biopic acutely captures the Godfather of Soul's iconic musical talents, although the fragmented script undermines any emotional kick in his story. The film also struggles to build up momentum, because it continually leaps between various chapters in Brown's life. Which means that it never quite connects these disparate episodes into one coherent narrative. Even so, Chadwick Boseman delivers an electrically charged central performance.
Boseman plays James from the time he was 16, thrown into prison for stealing a suit in 1949, until his comeback in the 1990s. Raised in a brothel run by his Aunt Honey (Octavia Spencer) after his parents (Viola Davis and Lennie James) abandoned him, James is in prison when he meets visiting gospel singer Bobby Byrd (Nelsan Ellis), who takes him in on his release. Together they form The Famous Flames, gaining small-time success as James catches the eye of a manager (Dan Aykroyd), a record executive (Fred Melamed) and the public. A string of major hits followed in the 1950s and 60s, then James went solo in the 70s before the usual issues of fame caught up with him: money, drugs and guns. But he returned to the stage in the 1990s.
The film completely skips over his Hollywood years in the 80s, which wouldn't be a problem if the decade was so notably missing from the film. As the story skips back and forth through the years, the audience is forced to make sense of the disparate scenes, filling in several holes along the way. Aside from one rather surreal scene in a Southern Gospel church, there's never much of a sense of how Brown found his voice or developed his inimitable style. It also never quite captures his impact on the music industry as a whole.
Continue reading: Get On Up Review
The stars of James Brown biopic 'Get On Up' including leading man Chadwick Boseman arrive for the New York premiere of the movie which was held at the city's Apollo Theater. The movie is scheduled to hit cinemas in September 2014.
L to R, Guest, Aunjanue Ellis, Nelsan Ellis and Tiffany Snow - Universal Pictures and Imagine Entertainment present the world premiere of 'Get On Up' at The Apollo Theater - Arrivals - New York, United States - Monday 21st July 2014
Since he was a child, he knew he'd become a star. He may not have had the easiest life growing up in a poor family and enjoying frequent brushes with the law (something that continued for the rest of his life despite his illustrious career), but he was a pioneer in what he did best. Following his first stint in prison as a teenager, he embarked on a musical career that would create a whole new way of looking at music. His funky rhythms, mind-blowing voice and effortless moves on stage would go on to inspire artists for generations even if his troubled personal life left much to be desired. He even took his soul magic to Vietnam during the 20-year conflict - a venture that demonstrated both his patriotism and his bravery. This is the story of James Brown.
Continue: Get On Up Trailer
The stars of the upcoming James Brown biopic 'Get On Up', Viola Davis, Nelsan Ellis and Octavia Spencer, talk about the legendary musician alongside artists Ice Cube, Pharrell, Mick Jagger, Cee-Lo Green and Aloe Blacc in a short featurette ahead of the film's release on September 26th 2014.
Continue: Get On Up - Featurette
James Brown didn't have the easiest childhood being born to two young parents who were so poor they could barely afford to live. After just a few years, his mother left him and he was raised by his aunt who, although was equally as financially insecure, resolved to love him as her own. Naturally, given his tough background, James turned to crime as a youth and spent time in a juvenile detention centre following an armed robbery conviction. It was there he took his passion for music seriously and decided to form a gospel band with some fellow inmates. Following his parole, he joined another gospel group and from there spiralled an illustrious career in funk and soul music that took the entire world by storm. Just as he dreamed, he became one of the music industry's most revered stars, but, alas, he also became one of the most troubled.
Continue: Get On Up Trailer
This is an strangely slushy movie from Lee Daniels, whose last two films (Precious and The Paperboy) bristled with unexpected life. By contrast, this star-packed drama uses a true story to trace the Civil Rights struggle from the 1950s to the present day. But it's been so fictionalised that it feels kind of like a variation on Forrest Gump.
Cecil Gaines (Whitaker) grew up on a Georgia cotton plantation, where the cruel master's kindly mother (Redgrave) taught him to be a house servant. Years later, he marries Gloria (Winfrey) and moves to Washington DC, where he gets a job in the White House as a butler to presidents from Eisenhower (Williams) to Reagan (Rickman). His job description is simple: "You hear nothing, you see nothing, you only serve." And yet as the nation grapples with its racist culture, he has a quiet influence on each leader who moves through the house.
Whitaker narrates the film in drawling flashbacks, while the story flickers between Cecil and his eldest son Louis (Oyelowo), an activist who is involved in every key moment in the Civil Rights movement. And their younger son (Kelley) is sent to Vietnam. So it's like a condensed version of late 20th century American history, made notable by the lively cast of cameo players including Marsden (as JFK), Schreiber (LBJ), Ellis (MLK) and Cusack (Nixon), plus Fonda as a lively Nancy Reagan.
Continue reading: The Butler Review
Members of the cast including singer Lenny Kravitz and 'Jack Reacher' actor David Oyelowo arrive at the premiere of 'The Butler' in New York. Lenny plays the role of James Holloway in the film while David stars as Louis Gaines.
Mariah Carey appeared alongside Oprah Winfrey and Forest Whitaker on the red carpet sporting an adorned arm injury.
'The Butler' looks set to be one of the most memorable movies of the year with an all-star cast that glittered on the red carpet at the New York premiere last night (August 5th 2013).
Sparkling the brightest was Oprah Winfrey in a pretty pink sequined gown with her hair in full afro form, alongside her onscreen husband Forest Whitaker who plays the title role, and her real partner Stedman Graham. Nursing a dislocated shoulder in a funky studded sling was Mariah Carey, who has not been letting her injury get in the way of anything she does at the moment as this wasn't the first time she has stepped out in a quirky bling sling. Some of the presidents from the movie also showed up, including Liev Schreiber who played Lyndon B. Johnson and James Marsden who was John F. Kennedy, as well as First Ladies Minka Kelly as Jackie Kennedy and Jane Fonda as Nancy Reagan.
Forest Whitaker plays the title character in 'The Butler'
Cecil Gaines is a modest and dedicated butler at the White House who manages to make for himself a respectable career despite his underprivileged upbringing and cotton farm roots. Starting out as a regular kitchen worker, Cecil soon proves himself to be extremely proficient and works his way up to be the head butler for eight different US presidents. Some of them prove to be discriminatory, treating Cecil with little respect and holding massively differing views to him, but he always remains polite and does everything within his power to care for his employers while keeping any top secret information that he might hear firmly to himself. Meanwhile, he struggles at home with his son; a Black Panther with aggressive views on racial equality who is less than grateful to have a father working for the people that he believes are causing racial oppression.
This story of loyalty and unconditional dedication is based on the true story of Eugene Allen; a butler who similarly lived through years of racial inequality before finally seeing, in his retirement, the election of the first black President, Barack Obama. His story was documented in the article 'A Butler Well Served by This Election' written by Wil Haygood. 'The Butler' has been directed by Lee Daniels ('The Paperboy', 'Precious', 'Shadowboxer') and co-written by Danny Strong ('Game Change', 'Recount') and will be released in the US on August 16th 2013.
True Blood's sixth episode of season six aired last night (Sunday 4th August). 'Dead Meat' saw more sex, more murder and more of Sookie's relationship problems.
True Blood season 6, episode 6 entitled 'Dead Meat' aired last night (Sunday 4th August). There was more trouble for the imprisoned vampires and, as usual, Sookie was being hankered after by a handsome and intense vampire. Here's a quick recap:
Eric's (Alexander Skarsgard) on the rampage again. Just to make a change from his usual happy, chirpy demeanour. He's still reeling from last week's incident when Bill (Stephen Moyer) didn't have any of Warlow's (Rob Kazinsky) blood to save Nora (Lucy Griffiths).
Continue reading: True Blood Episode 6 Recap: There'll Be More 'Dead Meat' Next Week