Tuesday, December 30, 2008
I finally saw this movie and really enjoyed it. It was so entertaining and kept me hooked the entire time. I honestly didn't know anything about Chess Records and really didn't know the histories of any of it's stars. I had definitely heard their music before because my folks had a real love for the blues, but that was it. These were truly genius performers. I find it very interesting that black stars with nothing to show for their hard work but a couple of value-depreciating cars is not a new thing. The labels knew (and still know) how to whet the appetite of poor kids who come from nothing with no real payoff but fleeting fame.
Jeffrey Wright as Muddy Waters proved again that he is one of Hollywood's greatest talents - I find him captivating. Mos Def was such a fun and modern take on Chuck Berry. Columbus Short was excellent as Little Walter - the embodiment of a tightly wound, brilliantly talented, too-pretty-for-his-own-damn-good hoodlum. Gabrielle Union gave a performance that makes me ask why the hell does this girl not work more in A-list projects, dammit??!!?!? Beyonce gave her best performance to date - and I think she was damn good - plus she sang the stank out of those songs. I loved that she stripped away the too perfect Bey that we know to reveal a grittier, more gut-bucket and abrasive part of herself - I hope she holds on to a bit of this woman because she is thoroughly interesting. She probably won't be nominated, but you just might hear her name bubble up a few times during Oscar season.
The weakest link of the movie was Adrien Brody. He didn't connect & seemed miscast. While I do think that there is something oddly attractive about him, it isn't enough to warrant him as a headliner. Also, I thought that the makeup for the aging, battered and on-his-comeback Little Walter looked too fake. During one of Bey's smack scenes, as she is being held, her wig noticeably shifts - I thought that was kind of funny.
One great thing I learned was the origin of the most famous and most sampled guitar riff in history. You learn something new everyday.
See it and hear some FIERCE music!!!