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Blogs 'N' Sods #1: The Godfather of Soul Lives Again

Welcome to a new feature here on Ace of Spades PDX. I have not done enough to promote the hard work of others on my site, so every week, I am going to showcase something I find of more than passing interest to share with all of you.

Our first entry had to be double dynamite, and thankfully, the stars have aligned for me to share something I am typically not fond of: going to the local cineplex and watching a newly released film. I went with some friends opening day, and we discussed the film intensely afterward.

Get On Up, for those not living under a rock, is the story of Soul Brother #1, James Brown. It goes into wide release this weekend. I was fortunate enough to have seen it last weekend. While much hype and many tickets were sold to the Guardians of the Galaxy flick, this one sticks much more close to Earth.

 We all loved the performance of the lead, Chadwick Boseman, who will make you forget that he tepidly played Jackie Robinson last year. He is everything everyone remembers ’bout James Brown, and you literally cannot take your eyes off of him as this almost 40 year old man plays Brown from his late teens to his early 60s.

 The film cleverly zips around timelines (how Citizen Kane) and keeps you guessing where we are gonna go to next. This was an incredibly smart thing to do, as this is much in the way Brown spoke to others, often bouncing around ideas until somehow, in your head, they all jelled into a coherent thought. And sometimes it didn’t. My friends complained about this. Obviously, they know little of James Brown, the man.

For some reason, many co-viewers are also lamented the amount of dirty laundry that isn’t in the film. I asked them: “What exactly did you want to see?” I actually read Brown’s mid-1980’s autobiography. Friends: why don’t you go out, get the book, pick something tawdry and lament about that. Haven’t read it? Thought so. As James Brown himself once said: “Talking loud, and sayin’ nothing.” Brown was an incredibly opinionated, stubborn, egotistical and at times maniacal person. There is more than enough in there to shock many into thinking twice about this.

Crazy things spewing out my mouth like this are the only reason my buds tolerate me at all, as they tell me they find it entertaining.

The film gets bonus points for some awesome name dropping, including the late, great Yvonne Fair, who’s 1975 album, The Bitch is Black, is worth going out to find. The entire supporting cast is just that: everyone know’s this is Boseman’s moment, and they let him shine spectacularly.

Overall, especially for the uninitiated, prepare yourself: the film’s live sequences are simply the most dazzling performances in a motion picture since Purple Rain. (Haters, laugh all you want, as it took home an Oscar, and you took home what, excatly? Thought so.) You will walk out of the theatre simply blown away and wanting more, which is exactly the way Brown would have wanted it.

Love to you all.

Ben Bear

originally published 08 August 2014 

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