Chadwick Boseman

Another unsolicited Netflix recommendation. cus i love Chadwick Boseman The world lost a beautiful sentient being when Chadwick Boseman died of colon cancer this past year. A director, playwright, actor, he wrote a play in poetic verse, Deep Azure. A serious student of the dramatic arts, Boseman has left an indelible body of work from 42, a biopic about Jackie Robinson, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Thurgood Marshall, to his groundbreaking role, as T’Challa in Black Panther. His consummate and passionate acting sets the bar for other actors to follow. That being said, I was so impressed with his portrayal of James Brown in the Netflix movie, Get On Up. I watched it last night with some whiskey eggnog and pumpkin pie, and I believe the movie and his acting deserve serious recognition. James Brown was a complex and incredibly gifted human being. Abandoned by parents, raised in the toughest of circumstances, jailed for stealing a suit, his early life is depicted as being incredibly difficult, traumatic. Yet his musical talent, strong belief in his ability to do the impossible, brilliant showmanship and business acumen made it possible for him to elevate himself and the people around him into the elite class of the most famous entertainers of our time.

Boseman plays James to perfection, his elegant figure draped in flamboyant velvet suits, full-legged splits to rival Jamaican Dancehall Queens, gold jewelry and conked hair. Boseman does not sugarcoat the role. The movie version of Brown is multi-dimensional; he beats his wife, seems to disregard women, is unkind to employees and alienates his best friend. He is also a loving father, generous husband, patriotic american and a champion for civil rights and human justice. Through the use of soliloquy or breaking the fourth wall, James/Boseman is able to talk to the audience about his feelings, fears and motivations. Key incidents in his life occur out of sequence, but the thread of the story is held strong by Boseman and the other stellar actors like Jill Scott, Dan Ackroyd, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Tika Morgan, Craig Robinson, Aunjanue Ellis, and the equally impressive and sadly deceased, Nelsan Ellis. Although he experienced tremendous adversity and hardship, James Brown was able to rise to the top, but at the expense of his personal and professional relationships. Setbacks also abound; the son he adores is killed, he gets in trouble for his taxes, cheats on his wives, and his musicians quit due to his domineering and abusive treatment. Despite this, the audience still roots for Brown. Boseman does all the dancing and some of the singing. The cinematic renditions of classics like, Please, Please, Please, enthrall, and delight. Boseman inhabits the mythical being that was James Brown and we love him and sympathize with this genuine real-life hero, a man who was deeply flawed but whose inner fire connected the world through the power of Rhythm and Blues and laid the Funk foundation for artists like Bootsy Collins to follow.

Get on Up was released in 2014, it cost $30million and made less than $34 million worldwide. Unimpressive figures in terms of profits. But the cultural legacy it leaves behind plus the irreplaceable talent of Boseman and Brown to touch and move audiences on a global scale makes this movie directed by Tate Taylor a priceless, unforgettable work of art, a true tribute to greatness. As Brown would have defiantly said, Say It Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud.

Writer: Aletha Dale