There are two kinds of people in this world: the soulful and the soulless. If you are bothering to read this we’re gonna go out on a limb here and wager you fit into the former category. Which works out well because papa just so happens to have a brand new bag filled with free passes to see Get On Up, Taylor Hackford’s soul-powered, superbad, Mick Jagger-produced biopic of the Godfather of Soul himself, Mr. James Brown. See David Denby’s review below for the deets, but suffice it to say that if you like to have fun, you will LOVE this movie. (Likewise, to be brutally honest, if you DO NOT LIKE TO HAVE FUN you are going to hate this movie, so maybe it’s best if you skip it.) Because we love you — and it’s August — we’re gonna make this one super easy. All you have to do is follow us on Twitter and send us an email at FEED@PHAWKER.COM telling us you have done so (or, if you already follow us email us telling us as much). Put the words ON THE GOOD FOOT in the subject line. Include your full name, mobile number for confirmation and your mailing address so we can send you the passes. The first 20 Phawker readers to do so will win a pair of tix. Good luck and godspeed!
NEW YORKER: As Brown, Chadwick Boseman is sensational. In “42,” he played Jackie Robinson, who could make history in the major leagues only if he ignored the race-baiting snarls from other players and from the stands. Boseman’s lionlike eyes conveyed some of what Robinson went through, but, except on the field, the performance never took off physically. He conquers all restraint in “Get On Up.” Thirty-seven years old, he assumes the role of Brown as the performer turns seventeen, squeezing his words into the young Brown’s strangled, high-pitched blur. (Eddie Murphy said that he never understood a word Brown said.) Brown and a group of other young musicians, obsessed with the impassioned style of Pentecostal gospel music, form a group called the Famous Flames. At the demand of a booking agent, Ben Bart (Dan Aykroyd), and a record producer, Syd Nathan (Fred Melamed), the name of the group is changed to James Brown and His Famous Flames. The rest of the band is furious, but Brown agrees. He makes everyone, including his friend and musical collaborator Bobby Byrd (Nelsan Ellis), address him as “Mr. Brown.” At first, the formality seems a hipster joke, a way of announcing that he has arrived. But Brown takes it very seriously, and also fines anyone in the group who plays a wrong note or does drugs—any drugs, including marijuana. He insists on respect from whites, too, but, in Taylor’s apparently ironic telling, Brown’s ways with black musicians become increasingly domineering and egotistical. The situation grows worse when Brown starts making millions but denies his salaried musicians base pay and taunts them into quitting. […] Onstage, in blue silk, and with abundant ascending hair, Boseman in one continuous motion grabs the mike, drops it, pulls it back by its cord, and launches into “Night Train.” The beat is driving, constant, even ferocious, but Boseman’s movements are liquid. A spectacular dancer (the choreographer Aakomon Jones worked with him), he does Brown’s swivelling side to side, his scissoring splits. To my eyes, his performance is both accurate and a marvellous interpretation, an extension of Brown’s greatness. The filmmakers give us plenty of music-making: the famous night at the Apollo, in 1962, which became a hit album and brought Brown to national attention; the 1964 T.A.M.I. Show, filmed at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, in which he blew the Rolling Stones off the stage; and the Paris concert of 1971, when he performed three stunning numbers—“Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine,” “Super Bad,” and “Soul Power.” In a rarity in these bio-pics, the movie captures a musician’s shifts in style. Rehearsing, Brown teaches his rebellious backup band to emphasize rhythm rather than melody. “Every instrument a drum,” he says, and persuades the horns to play, in unison, a single chord. Funk takes shape before our eyes, with hip-hop beckoning down the road. MORE