Universal Pictures via Everett Collection
A James Brown biography would have no business playing docile. Still, when we hear the word “biopic,” we think today of the Rays and Walk the Lines that earned the attention of the Academy and public alike. We expect any musician’s story to hold the low notes, no matter how wild and kooky said musician might be — and as such might entail, in the illustration of his life, a connection that Get on Up makes quite effectively.
From the get-go, we’re enveloped in the mania that is James Brown. We’re invited into an old Mr. Brown’s fragmented brain via a particularly chaotic scene involving a shotgun and a penchant for lavatorial exclusivity. Before we can even latch onto the adult Brown in question, we’re thrust back a ways into his young adulthood, then his childhood, back again to the dawn of his career, then the peak, revisiting eras and introducing new ones with an unpredictable and consistently engaging rhythm. Not unlike his music, James Brown’s story is both irreverent and industrious, barely tiring as it carries past its second hour.
Universal Pictures via Everett Collection
On the contrary: the film is so adherent to its vigor that it can actually be exhausting to watch after a while. We’re asked to expend as much energy as Chadwick Boseman pumps into his evolution from a scrappy entertainer to the hardest working man in America, needing a breather around his fourth or fifth stage performance. But if you can make it through the show, you’ll be mighty impressed at Boseman’s turn as Brown.
In his embodiment of the character — of the flash, of the style, of the grit — Boseman is stellar, though beneath the elaborate linens we see find a great deal for the talented young actor to play with. Beside him is the film’s arguable standout: Nelsan Ellis, playing James Brown’s best friend, sidekick, and punching bag Bobby Byrd. More a story about the duo’s relationship than one about Brown as a star in his own right, Get on Up makes determined magic when we watch the fellas trade compassion, camaraderie, and egos.
Dressed up with visual flares, narrative transgressions, fourth wall demolition, and even a few bits of absurdist humor, Get on Up aims for the lively character that James Brown was known to offer. Even if it might pack too much to hold our attention for such a lengthy runtime — especially with most of its material wading at surface level — just about everything it has to offer is exciting, vivid, and distinctly musical.
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"I came to watch James Brown later in my career, I was sitting down in the back of the (ground floor). He asked me to come onstage and I tried to run out... and they forced me to come onstage." Sir Mick Jagger recalls trying to avoid the spotlight the second time he ever saw James Brown perform live at New York's legendary Apollo Theater. The rocker is one of the producers behind the new film biopic, Get On Up.
"We had not met before. We just sent messages through family and I really did not want to talk to her." Jill Scott on meeting James Brown's first wife Deedee at the New York premiere of new biopic Get On Up. Scott portrays Deedee in the film.
"I did not (know who he was). When I read the script, I was like, 'Is this a fictitious character?' (But) I did the research and I fell in love with this man... He was such a wonderful individual." Actor Nelsan Ellis had to study soul singer/producer Bobby Byrd's background before signing up to star as James Brown's best friend and confidante in new biopic Get On Up.
Actor Dan Aykroyd made quite an entrance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon in America on Friday night (18Jul14) by performing one of his favourite James Brown tunes with rock 'n' roll veteran Bobby Rush. The Blues Brothers star portrays Brown's manager Ben Bart in new biopic Get On Up and decided to promote the film with a musical tribute to his late hero.
Aykroyd and Rush performed Brown's I'll Go Crazy and the actor then explained to host Fallon that the number was special to him as he used it to persuade his late friend not to retire.
Aykroyd explained he performed the track when Brown was part of the Kennedy Center Honors in 2003.
The actor explained, "He was thinking about retiring and I sang it to kind of dissuade him from retiring - if you leave me, I'll go crazy... He was so much fun. He was a great guy, a wonderful man."
Brown died on Christmas Day (25Dec), 2006.
"I made the call. When I found out Tate was directing, I was like, 'You better find me something for me to do Tate. I don't care what it is, but you better find something, because I'm a big James Brown fan.' And he did, he's very loyal that way." Actress Octavia Spencer would have done anything to land a role in her director pal Tate Taylor's new James Brown biopic, Get On Up. The Help star portrays Aunt Honey in the film, opposite 42 actor Chadwick Boseman, who plays the late Godfather of Soul
"Any good actress wants to be Viola Davis when she grows up... I'm trying to get there." Oscar winner Octavia Spencer is full of praise for her The Help co-star, who she reunites with in new James Brown biopic Get On Up.
Sir Mick Jagger has opened up about the death of his girlfriend L'Wren Scott in a new TV interview, admitting it has been a "hard year" and he threw himself into work to cope.
The Rolling Stones frontman was asked about the tragedy during an interview on America's Today show, which aired on Friday (18Jul14) to promote the new James Brown biopic Get On Up that the singer produced.
Jagger looked sombre as he revealed he threw himself into work to deal with the pain of Scott's death. He said, "I'm doing okay. It's difficult. (It's been a) very hard year, but I got back into it by working on touring with the Stones in Europe and doing other things, including doing this great movie... (I've had) a lot of support... and I appreciate that."
Jagger was on tour with the band in Australia when his long-term partner took her own life at her apartment in New York City in March (14), prompting the group to postpone shows in Australia and New Zealand.
The veteran singer returned to the stage in Norway in May (14).
Mick Jagger's new James Brown biopic brought back bad memories for the Rolling Stones rocker as it reminded him of a meeting he had with the Godfather of Soul at the beginning of his career. A naive, 20-year-old Jagger was asked to help calm Brown down after he learned he wouldn't be headlining a T.A.M.I. Show special in the 1960s, and the Brit jumped at the chance to meet one of his heroes.
But Brown wasn't in the mood to meet fans.
Jagger tells WENN, "James Brown was definitely the star but there were many others... like Marvin Gaye... and James was a bit annoyed as not being the last on the show.
"As I was the only one who had met him before, briefly, the producers of the show decided I was the fall guy. I was, like, 20, and they were like, 'You go and talk to him'.
"When you're 20 you go, 'Sure, I'll do it,' and of course that didn't work out well... He did this amazing performance and we (Rolling Stones) went on after. We had to work really hard, and maybe it was a better show because of that."
Jagger is the producer of new film Get On Up, which features 42 star Chadwick Boseman as late soul man Brown.
Broadway's Tupac Shakur musical Holler If Ya Hear Me is to close early due to disappointing ticket sales.
The stage show, based on the music of the late rapper, officially opened at New York City's Palace Theatre on 19 June (14) and less than two months after its debut, the curtain will come down for the last time on Sunday (20Jul14).
Producer Eric L. Gold made the announcement on Monday night (14Jul14), attributing declining sales to the show's ultimate demise. He says, "We are so proud to be a part of this ground breaking production... My hope is that a production of this calibre, powerful in its story telling, filled with great performances and exciting contemporary dance and music will eventually receive the recognition it deserves."
"It saddens me that due to the financial burdens of Broadway, I was unable to sustain this production longer in order to give it time to bloom on Broadway. Tupac's urgent socially important insights and the audiences' nightly rousing standing ovations deserve to be experienced by the world."
The production reportedly cost $8 million (£4.7 million) to stage, and, after receiving mixed reviews from critics, box office figures have been declining ever since the show began previews on 2 June (14).