Friday, October 31, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Review: Boseman drips with charisma as James Brown

By
From page B2 | August 01, 2014 |

Jocelyn Noveck

There’s a delicious moment in “Get On Up,” Tate Taylor’s new James Brown biopic, when Brown — played by Chadwick Boseman, in a thrillingly magnetic performance — is about to appear on the T.A.M.I. Show, a multi-act concert filmed in 1964.

Backstage, the singer is informed that he and his band won’t be closing the show; that honor will be going to an up-and-coming British band called the Rolling Stones. Brown shakes off the disappointment, goes out and blows the roof off the place with the force of those growling vocals and explosive, kinetic dance moves. Then he saunters over to the Stones, just five skinny blokes who don’t know what hit them. “Welcome to America,” he says.

Did he say that in real life? No matter. The scene illustrates Brown’s most important qualities: his indescribable drive as a performer, and his almost blinding charisma.

For that, kudos go to director Taylor and producers Brian Grazer and Mick Jagger (yes, that Mick Jagger, who’s made no secret of Brown’s influence on his own famous moves.) But none of it would work, of course, without Boseman, an actor on a remarkable run of late, playing Jackie Robinson in “42” and now this. If he was impressive as the dignified Robinson, he’s electrifying as Brown.

And just as Brown, in life, upstaged pretty much everyone — including his bandmates, the Famous Flames — Boseman does that here. The always excellent Viola Davis plays Brown’s mother, Susie, but since Susie left her son as a boy, we don’t see enough Davis — just a few sad moments from Brown’s hardscrabble rural youth, and then one excruciating, wonderfully played scene later, when she comes to see her adult son backstage at Harlem’s Apollo Theater.

The central relationship in Brown’s life, though, was with his friend and partner, Bobby Byrd, who stuck with him even as Brown’s ego pushed many away. As Byrd, Nelsan Ellis gives a thoughtful performance that, appropriately, grounds the film. (As Brown’s longtime manager, Dan Akyroyd occasionally gets a little hammy.)

Many biopics of performers follow a grating formula: Tough youth, obstacles overcome, fame discovered, more obstacles, descent into old age or worse. Here, Tate and talented screenwriters Jez Butterworth and John-Henry Butterworth avoid this by jumping around in time, ditching chronology for a thematic approach. It can get confusing, but it keeps us on our toes.

They also have Brown break the fourth wall at key moments. Alas, this isn’t done early or frequently enough to feel coherent. Perhaps there just wasn’t time; even at 138 minutes, the film has to barrel though parts of Brown’s long public life. (He died in 2006, at 73.)

Luckily, there was time for the scene where an older Brown bursts into a meeting at a building he owns, shooting at the ceiling with a rifle; he’s annoyed someone used his private bathroom. Also memorable: the scene where Brown encounters a young Little Richard (Brandon Smith, highly entertaining), and Brown’s amusingly incongruous appearance in a ski sweater in the 1965 Frankie Avalon film “Ski Party.”

Much more harrowing is a scene showing Brown hitting his second wife, DeeDee — a brief evocation of the man’s darker side.

Also effective is a tense scene in which Brown forces his band, in rehearsal, to change the sound they’re used to playing. They resist; he wins. And the music does sound fabulous throughout; one imagines Jagger had something to do with that. (The vocals in the film are Brown’s; as for the dance moves, of course, that’s all Boseman. )

In the end, we have a portrait that is not uniformly positive — Brown was too complicated for that — yet falls mostly on the kinder side. At one point, Byrd is trying to explain to a frustrated bandmate why he sticks with Brown.

“He’s a genius,” Byrd says simply.

True enough.

“Get On Up,” a Universal Studios release, is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America “for sexual content, drug use, some strong language, and violent situations.” Running time: 138 minutes. Three stars out of four.

 

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

 
Home: Some things never change

By Mayrene Bates | From Page: A2, 1 Comment

Holiday boutique set for weekend

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
Live Your Dream award applications due Nov. 15

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3

 
 
Victim of Tuesday traffic incident dies

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A3, 7 Comments

Transportation Info Depot opens Monday in Suisun

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A4, 3 Comments

 
Salvation Army set to host Kroc Fest

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A4

 
 
Deadline looms for vote-by-mail ballots

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A5

 
Fairfield police log: Oct. 28, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A5

Suisun City police log: Oct. 28, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

 
.

US / World

 
Pentagon orders 21-day Ebola quarantine for troops

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1, 2 Comments

US health care unprepared for Ebola

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
California orders risk-based Ebola quarantine

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1, 55 Comments

Suge Knight, Katt Williams charged with robbery

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
Military jet crashes in California, killing pilot

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

Peshmerga troops cheered by fellow Kurds in Turkey

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
New York, New Jersey look back 2 years after Sandy

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Russian rocket engines suspected in launch blast

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6, 2 Comments

 
Al-Qaida: IS should rejoin group and fight West

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Bill Clinton says voting is cure for polarization

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6, 3 Comments

 
Lava 100 feet from Hawaii home, nearing main road

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6, 1 Comment

Police: Man decapitates mother, is killed by train

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Army blows up houses, Egyptians evacuate near Gaza

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

.

Opinion

Measure A helps students

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A7

 
Jane Day for council: She cares

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A7

Do you trust Spering?

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A7, 6 Comments

 
Support for Spering, Moy

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A7, 1 Comment

Measure A a simple choice

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A7, 1 Comment

 
Mraz is desperate

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A7, 12 Comments

 
We’ve got to stop meeting like this

By Kelvin Wade | From Page: A7

Editorial Cartoons: Oct. 30, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

 
Davenport, Pal, Spering best choices for vote

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A7

Spering record not set straight

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 4 Comments

 
In support of Brian Thiemer

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 2 Comments

Debate was eye-opening

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 3 Comments

 
Vote for Catherine Moy

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 3 Comments

Tonnesen right choice for City Council

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8

 
Vote for Tonnesen

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8

Learn to say no

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8

 
Support for Bertani

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 10 Comments

Better uses for negative campaign mailer costs

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 1 Comment

 
Proposition 47 fails to advance state

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8

Mraz not best officer for council post

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 3 Comments

 
Moy is the leader we need

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 1 Comment

Vote for Moy; Vote for Fairfield

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 4 Comments

 
Time for something new: Integrity

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 9 Comments

Supports Timm for Fairfield council

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 10 Comments

 
Measure A a wise investment

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8

.

Living

Today in History: Oct. 30, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: Oct. 30, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Horoscopes: Oct. 30, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A10

 
My sister won’t talk to any of us, I’m worried about my nephew

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A10

.

Entertainment

Taylor Swift talks books and music with kids

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
‘House of Cards’ actress Norment dies

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Orson Welles’ last film may finally be released

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

.

Sports

Giants fans revel in victory

By Marcus Lomtong | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Giants ace Bumgarner wins World Series MVP

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Royals’ dream season falls short in World Series

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Bumgarner, Giants beat KC to win World Series

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1, 5 Comments | Gallery

Bumgarner, Giants beat KC 3-2 in Series Game 7

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Selig’s imprint seen in Game 7 of World Series

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Warriors whip Kings 95-77 in season opener

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Jose Canseco resting at home after shooting hand

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Sacramento breaks ground on new Kings arena

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

It’s Thursday Night Lights for SCAC

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B2

 
49ers rookie center Marcus Martin to make NFL debut

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Stanford men looking to build on NCAA tournament run

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Carr prepares for tough test vs. Seahawks

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Vanden’s McDaniel repeats as SCAC singles champion

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B3

 
.

Business

Gov’t pushes air bag maker on replacement parts

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Fed ends bond buying and cites brighter job market

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

.

Obituaries

Hardie Lee Doshier

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Howard Lenowsky

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

.

Comics

Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A10

 
Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A10

Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A10

 
Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A10

Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A10