I had always intended to catch Get On Up, the 2014 James Brown docudrama, in its first weeks of release. But as I worked through the opening weekend and heard little worth repeating on the film, I pretty much just let it go. Was this the wrong thing to do? As I continue down this rabbit hole of film criticism that has become such a demonstrative piece of my life, I've begun an inner struggle between the merits of spending literally all of my time at the movies in an impossible attempt to catch everything, or allowing myself to not go to films that seem to be missing some aspect that would make me truly love them.
Get On Up, for the record, is very good and vastly underrated. It tells the James Brown story (it's about damn time) in a more kaleidoscopic manner than I am used to. The events of Brown's life swirl around and try to attain clarity while being represented hand in hand with other decades. What Brown represents and what he learns are not linear ideas... and the film picks up on this and allows the heavy questions to resonate across his life in a fashion I had not witnessed before.
Essentially what I'm trying to say is, Tate Taylor directed a very interesting film that actually affected me. Chadwick Boseman and Nelson Ellis (his leads) gave excellent performances that both encapsulated an understanding of the people they played and the time which they so bombastically inhabited. These guys managed to make a film of quality, and while certain aspects of James Brown's life may draw snickers from many people, there is still a clear message that this is in fact just a man, like any other man... he makes mistakes from day one. He is imperfect. But for a brief time on this earth, he did manage to make something fresh and new... something that no one ever expected to hear... something beautiful.
Now I sit here wishing I had caught this flick a long time ago, because I could have fought for it in conversations. I don't know what the naysayers of Get On Up saw, but it clearly was not the same film I watched that unequivocally kept my interest from start to finish and consistently had me thinking, "that was perfectly done" or "that was impeccably acted." For any negative review or lack of award consideration that may have kept you away from this film, I'm here to tell you, I really liked Get On Up.