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
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'
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
A terrific story is compromised by the demands of commercial filmmaking, adding action-thriller scenes to what should be an introspective drama while distractingly beefing up side-roles for American stars. But at the centre is another superb performance from Riz Ahmed (Four Lions), who again takes a complex, challenging approach to the subject of terrorism.
The narrative is fragmented into flashbacks as Changez (Ahmed) tells his story to an American journalist (Schreiber) in Pakistan while a tense hostage situation swirls all around them. Years earlier, Changez was a high-flying Pakistani student, graduating from Princeton and landing a prestigious job on Wall Street when an executive (Sutherland) recognises his talent. He also has a sexy artist girlfriend (Hudson). But all of this is shaken after the 9/11 attacks, when he is harassed by police and immigration officials. Fundamentally changed, he returns to Lahore to become a lecturer in violent uprisings. But this makes the CIA think that he's become a terrorist himself. Perhaps he has.
The various strands of the story are intriguing, and the actors are all watchable as they add layers to Changez's overall story. But the jumbled structure of the film reduces the narrative to a series of seemingly unrelated scenes. Hudson and Sutherland are solid but add little beyond their characters' stereotypical American reactions to Changez's decisions. The always superb Schreiber is better used as a more shady figure. But other characters vanish just when they get interesting, such as Changez's parents, played by acting legends Puri and Azmi.
Continue reading: The Reluctant Fundamentalist Review
On paper, the treacle-meter for The Soloist is nearly off the charts. But while Wright (Atonement) hasn't fashioned anything like a classic, and the screenplay by Susannah Grant (Erin Brockovich) is frequently thin on motivation, the film is not even close to the disaster that it should have been. This is higher praise than it may sound.
Continue reading: The Soloist Review
Based on a series of novels by Charlaine Harris, True Blood drops us into the weird world of Sookie Stackhouse (the energetic Anna Paquin), a young waitress who has ability to hear people's thoughts, a talent that annoys the hell out of her. In this slightly alternate reality, vampires live among humans, albeit in a fairly segregated fashion. The invention of synthetic blood, the so-called True Blood of the title, means that vampires need not kill humans to feed, so they have been granted civil rights. The problem, though, is that they still prefer the real thing.
Continue reading: True Blood: Season One Review
Football came naturally to the Pennsylvania native, and it was on the gridiron where he cemented his identity. A gifted running back, Davis was recruited by the great Jim Brown to play for coach Ben Schwartzwalder at Syracuse University. While an Orangeman, Davis earned MVP honors at the Cotton Bowl in 1960 and the Liberty Bowl in '61. Later that year, Davis became the first African-American to win the Heisman Trophy. The Washington Redskins used their first pick in the 1962 draft on Davis (though the team immediately traded him to the Cleveland Browns). But in 1963, before playing a single down in the National Football League, Davis died of leukemia at the age of 23.
Continue reading: The Express Review