‘Get on Up’ shows all sides of James Brown

(From syracusenewtinmes,com)

(From syracusenewtinmes,com)

When I saw James Brown listed for the main stage of Woodstock ’99 in Rome, N.Y., I made sure I was as close as possible in my role as music critic for the big daily.

In fact, the promoters made him the opening act.

The Hardest Working Man in Show Business, the Godfather of Soul … I was ready for the funk. So, too, was the flock on the infield of the former Air Force base.

He took a long time coming out, 20 minutes of his band funking it up. He wore a bright blue suit. He danced and sang, in a worn and gritty voice. He was James Brown.

Here’s a link to the piece I wrote for The Post-Standard the day after he died in 2006. It includes the short piece I wrote for the paper after that set in 1999.

I thought of that when I was getting ready to see the biopic “Get on Up,” the story of James Brown’s life, 1933 to 2006.

I loved the movie. It showed Brown as a complicated wise man, a guy who came from America’s backwood’s dirt and used his talent and brains to become very rich and very famous and very infamous, too. It shows the good, the bad, the ugly, warts and all.

Chadwick Boseman is stellar as this man of many sides, playing Brown from teens to 60s, a complicated soul of words, music and physical music. He should hear his name called come award nomination time for this one. There are many fantastic supporting roles, too.

To read my weekly Film Review blog, critiquing the movie on the Syracuse New Times site, click the link below.


Are you a fan of the biography films of music legends, and do you think they can tell the story behind the songs? With a performer such as James Brown, how much do you want to see about the darker side of the personality and life? Did you ever get to see James Brown in concert, and what is your favorite James Brown song?

28 thoughts on “‘Get on Up’ shows all sides of James Brown

  1. I am so glad you gave this a positive review, Mark! I imagine that Mick Jagger wouldn’t have wanted to help finance a ‘bad’ movie! His input and his reverence for James Brown, hopefully shine through the movie’s lens! Smiles, Robin


  2. I don’t know about his dark side. Maybe I should stay in the dark about that. People in my generation think of him mostly as the guy who Michael Jackson copied for his moves and the guy that Eddie Murphy parodied on SNL in the hot tub sketch. So it might be good to get the full story.


  3. I saw the movie this weekend and loved it, too! I was a little leery at first, when it was jumping back and forth between decades but it was done so superbly that this blonde was able to follow. I never did get to see James Brown live but really want the album he recorded from the Apollo now. And I typically dig biography films of music legends, when done correctly. I think that in order to depict the true life of whomever they are trying to capture, it must be a ‘warts and all’ script. Makes it feel real, authentic. I actually could have used more music in the James Brown movie – but that’s the only ‘complaint’ I have.


  4. Chadwick Boseman did excellent work in “42.” I bet he turns in another award-winning performance in “Get on Up,” I loved James Brown’s music, I don’t have to see the dark side of him. I remember the headlines. It’s always disturbing when a talented man heads down the wrong road.


  5. this looks great and i love biopics. happy jill scott is in it and it sounds like chadwick does a great job playing him. wow, for you to mention oscars, it must be good. my fav jb song is ‘papa’s got a brand new bag’ by the way. you are so lucky to have had those experiences with him )


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