Category Archives: Biography

Get on up (2014)

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Get on up  – (Biography, Drama, Music,  2014) D: Tate Taylor W: Jez Butterworth, John Henry P: Peter Afterman C: Chadwick Boseman, Nelsan Ellis, Dan Aykroyd. 2h 18m. USA. (PG13)

TAGLINE : The Funk don’t Quit

Synopsis : A chronicle of James Brown’s rise from extreme poverty to become one of the most influential musicians in history.

Upbeat, comical and sentimental recollection of the grand master of funk himself Mr. James Brown. Starting out with one of the more controversial moments of Mr Browns career and possibly part of one of his best car chases, manages to kick off the movie, but it soon starts to backtrack to his humble beginnings detailing a humble upbringing and is abandonment of first his mother Susie (Viola Davis) then father. Slowly creeping up through the ages constantly showing the havoc that the unstoppable Brown created throughout his life. A sterling profound performance from Chadwick Boseman (42 2013) who’s ability to mimic the grand master is hauntingly accurate, an excellent choice from director Tate Taylor (the Help 2011). Tracing the rags to riches caper that’s heavily injected with quirky reaction shots while Chadwick gives the audience a little info or shows concern for being in a “honky ho down”.

Detailing the jail time, inspirations, courage and various song and dance outbursts of the “hardest working man in show business” Brown is depicted a strong willed domineering, maverick, flash dressing perfectionist and activist, storming the charts as well as fighting for civil rights. All while sidekick Boby Byrd (Nelsan Ellis) is on hand to provide a footing and commentary. As the Famous Flames fade into obscurity the godfather or soul takes his rightful place as centre stage running the show exactly as he and only he intends it to run.

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Great detail is paid to the costumes and settings while there is a variety of a minor historical inaccuracy, some events are played up for the grand Hollywood screen. There is still a bold demonstration for the zeal of music throughout. Former Blues Brother Dan Aykroyd has a cameo as Brown’s manager Ben Bart and Jill Scott finds herself at the end of a single punch as Browns wife, it’s enough to demonstrate their happy marriage, but his flaws are rarely demonstrated. Despite these flaws, that are clearly portrayed in the film, it prefers to paint him as a savior of American Funk and we can’t deny him his hard work and preservation paid off. A great and entertaining homage to the late and great James Brown.

 

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Rating –  9/10

V : I love a ton about this movie, it’s clever, it’s sentimental and it’s funny, the only thing that puts me off is that it failed to paint James Brown with the negative brush enough on the domestic side. I like that it didn’t ignore his behavior to his wife, in fact it’s prevalent but it just glorified him a little TOO much. Still it seems to be a damn fine account, there isn’t much wrong with it at all. I do admire that it ends at a high point, and doesn’t play out but I think to be fully complete it could have gone right to the end of the story. Maybe playing on the people who are influenced by James Brown today, how his legacy of music is still alive today.

R: Notorious
(2009), Beyond the Sea (2004) , Tina (1993) The Soloist (2009), American Gangster (2007)

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Pumping Iron (1977)

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Pumping Iron (Sport, Biography, Documentary 1977) (12) D : George Butler and Rober Fiore: W: Charles Gaines (book “Pumping Iron”): C: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lou Ferrigno, Mike Katz, Franco Columbu 1h 25m. USA.

 Synopsis: From Gold’s Gym in Venice Beach California to the showdown in Pretoria, amateur and professional bodybuilders prepare for the 1975 Mr. Olympia and Mr. Universe contests in this part-scripted, part-documentary film. Five-time champion Arnold Schwarzenegger defends his Mr. Olympia title against Serge Nubret and the shy young deaf Lou Ferrigno, whose father is his coach; the ruthless champ psyches out the young lion. Sardinian Franco Columbu competes in the lightweight class; at home in Italy he solves a tight parking problem by lifting the car into place. Joe Weider is the marketer; Mike Katz and Ken Waller go for the title of Mr. Universe. Bodybuilding and a celebrity-to-be go mainstream.

A sweaty slice of 1970’s muscle and bitching, glory riding and iron pumping. This movie is one of the early documentaries that had so much character and potential it could easily be adapted into a cinematic film and excite a new generation of body builders and cinema fans simultaneously. The sport was defiantly at a new high point in the 1970’s with the arrival of Arnie and Lou this helped build many illustrious careers. There are constant broken English quips from Arnold throughout as he is the focus of the film. While the rest of the plot revolved around the physical and emotional struggle to the Olympia. With no discernible screenplay as the film is based on documentary footage, the cinematography while instant there is a lot of obvious close-ups on the individuals and their “amazing” bodies, as there aren’t too many sweeping landscapes in Golds Gym.

The personality of the young buff men is enough to carry this film on through the ages, as one of the long loved bodybuilding movies possibly of all time. It was enough to warrant a sequel of the ladies of body building only a few years later.

Despite hardcore followers knowing the results of the Olympia and the run up events, this film lends it popularity to going behind the scenes and showing the gruelling and comedic training and quirky personalities that are usually hidden behind closed gym doors. It gives light to those intimate moments behind the stage and it certainly does have a group of very entertaining bolshoi people to study for this distinctive venture.

For most of the time the body builders were not heard and just seen sporadically on stage. Within pumping iron there is a first chance to see the sportsmen talking for themselves (and what a job they made of it), it’s half the cringingly bad rapport that you’d expect and half amazingly sentimental and intellectual talks with other builders, it really did open the doors on what is really going on behind the muscle in the gym.

If your not into the sport or a fan at all, then it won’t be as rewarding but it’s still pretty entertaining, if only for the unashamed schits and giggles.

R: Pumping Iron II (1985) Foxcatcher (2014), Generation Iron (2013)

Q: Arnold “Milk is for babies. When you grow up you have to drink beer.”
TIL: Working out in the gym is like cumming…. I’d like to add that I am yet to experience this..
BS: Overall my best scene award goes to Arnies interview when he talks about giving “advices”.
L: Sports Documentaries.Body Builders in Movies.
DGI: Knock a Shot every time a guy flexs his biceps.
5B: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lou Ferrigno


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Rating : 9/10

Kisha

the Krays (1990)

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Krays (Biography, Crime, Drama 1990) (18) D: Peter Medak: P: W: Philip Ridley: C: Gary Kemp, Martin Kemp, Billie Whitelaw, Susan Fleetwood, Kate Hardie 1h 59m. UK.

TAGLINE : When People are afraid of you, you can do anything. Remember that.

 

Synopsis: This fact-based movie follows the life of the twin crime-lord in London’s ’60s underworld.

A sentimental and raw biography of twin London gangsters, this film documents their rise from the back streets of London to the headlines of the international press. The film charismatically details their devotion to their mother and the unique bond.

As with a lot of biographical movies, it is difficult to encapsulate a lifetime into a short piece. So the movie only touches on several key events in the lives of the Kray twins. While some of the grimy and often violent crimes that are still evident in the London boroughs, are recorded in the movie. It still misses some of the more difficult and hard hitting facts about the crime duo.

Maybe a lot was missed out purposely, as the overall theme of the movie that comes across suggesting, quite rightly; that the brothers were seen as celebrities during their time. The film oozes scenes of the twins dressing up models in tailored suits and being spoken of highly among the local people almost as robin hood type characters and getting their photograph taken with lots of other celebrities in their lavish clubs. i think this image was the main purpose of the film. Secondly they are portrayed as being extremely devoted to the elder female figures within their family primarily the mother and aunt rose (Susan Fleetwood) and then finally they are described as being  violent and psychotic criminal masterminds.

While the screenplay itself is quite simplistic it is highlighted with casually placed well-directed scenes not always making the most of cinematography or soundtrack track, the character and energy from the film comes mostly from the sincere acting of the two brothers and ballsy cameos from Whitelaw as opposed to any background music camera mechanics.

The first half of the movie focuses in on the twins at children growing up during the London blitz, going to school, and a protective mother and a almost invisible father. the second half of the movie lands them is grown men in the middle of a ready made empire. A large part of the building of a criminal hq and dodgy businesses was completely missed and is possibly one of the more interesting aspects of their lives.

The acting could very well be described as polished. There is definitely some panache from each brother. It’s not the kind of acting that will win anybody an Oscar, but it will definitely be remembered as one of the more stylised British performances. Which in turn is homage to the two original characters. The film is often pulled back from the violence by inserts of wisdom and powerful performances from Fleetwood and Whitelaw (RIP to both) as they attempt to interject the raw emotion and thoughts of a strong iron lady who is the backbone of her community.

Hungarian born director Peter Medak at the time was typically filming numbers of shorter television shows. Maybe he lost his sense of timing when given something of much more magnitude to direct the pace seems to slow and quicken and the ending is sudden. It’s a homage to the Krays, it neglects the controversy, instead it presents a stylised history of the Krays as much as Goodfellas (1990) tried for Henry Hill Just placing the boys on a British pedestal instead.

 

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Rating : 8/10

R: The End (2008), Essex Boys (2000), Rise of the Footsoldier (2007)

Q: Aunt RoseOne day they’ll drain Victoria Park lake and you know what they’ll find? Babies, that’s what. Bullets and dead babies”..
BS: The big showdown finale is great, the set up is similar to the killing montages similar to the Godfather and Infernal Affairs.
L: London film, British Crime and Gangsters, Crime Biographies, Biographies, Twins in Film.
5B: Billie Whitelaw, Susan Fleetwood, Gary Kemp, Martin Kemp

Behind the Candelabra (2013)

BEHIND THE CANDLEABRA (Biography, Drama, Romance, 2013) (15D: Steven Soderbergh C: Matt Damon, Rob Lowe, Michael Douglas 1h 58m  USA 

Based on the autobiographical novel, the tempestuous 6-year relationship between Liberace and his (much younger) lover, Scott Thorson, is recounted.

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 I watched this for the first time last year.. last year!! sounds gay don’t it! it was like a week ago! I love biographical movies and to be honest I knew very little about Liberace so it was an eye opener for me. I finally class Micahel Douglas as an actor! lol He did a great job. I eneded up watching a bunch of Liberace videos on YouTube and he got it down fine!! The story is almost addictive. I adore what they did with the speical effects/make up to get everyone all hollywood fit and tucked! It was quite an interesting mockery of what the showbiz elite think is beautiful and so clever. I love it when this issue is addressed in movies like escape from LA.

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Girl with a Pearl Earring

GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING.

(Historical, Romance, Costume Drama, Biography 2003) D: Peter Webber W: Tracy Chevalier P: Peter Block – 1h 40m. UK

TAGLINE : Discover the mystery behind the legend.

A Young peasant maid working in the house of painted Johannes Vermeer becomes his talented assistant and model for one of his most famous works.

A beautiful movie where nearly every scene looks like a Dutch masterpiece. Visually this movie is stunning, and I’m not saying that just because I’m an artist.

It details very little about the inner thoughts of any of the characters but informs and entertains much in the same way as The Other Boleyn Girl (2008).

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I felt that the actors were forced into being silent and still for most of the pivotal scenes, using body language and close ups to express the emotional thoughts rather than bold action, but to be honest if you study historical artist Vermeer (Colin Firth) was always referred to as being a quiet man of the Dutch Golden Age, often being outspoken.

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The cinematography by Eduardo Serra and the production of the movie ensure that every scene captures a painting; a lot of the scenes the actors are still, the colours all mimic the pallet of an 1665 painter the scenes are all very typical of the subjects of many paintings of that time and genre.

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I really do like my historical costume dramas so I’m a little bias here. This is certainly one of the more entertaining. It’s not trying to answer any questions, reveal any secrets or rewrite history, it’s just a simple explanation of what might have happened. Simply Vermeer and a host of others, (Tom Wilkinson and Cilian Murphy) all fall in love with one natural beauty and all need to possess her in some way.

Q: “You’ve glazed my wife in dry piss” “How hard is it to paint a pretty girl” R : The Other Boleyn Girl (2008) T: the original title of the painting is Hey Meisje met de Parel

7/10

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Last nights Movie 20-05-13

I only managed one movie last night.. it was only nearly 3 hours long!

DER UNTERGANG – DOWNFALL

(Biography, Drama, 2004) (15) D: Oliver Hirschbiegel W: Bernd Eichinger S:Ulrich Matthes, Bruno Ganz, Christian  Berkel, Tomas Kretschmann. 2h 36m. GER

TAGLINE : April 1945, a nation awaits its…

Traudl Junge, the final secretary for Hitler tells of the Nazi dictators final days in his Berlin bunker at the end of WWII.

The final days of hitler.. whoo! What a pleasure to watch. Or is it? I’m not sure if the movie was trying to portray the homicidal f*ckwit as a fragile old man with 99 problems but he does come across as paranoid and feeling desperately abandoned. It’s enjoyable to see the downfall of a tyrant but it was never going to be a fun movie to watch, tons of suicides, killing off of the kiddies and doggies but ultimately the end of the war. It was different to see a screenplay deliberate the Second World War without really mentioning Jewish persecution or having yanks winning the war. It details the ignorance of the young. All in all it was interesting to see this from such a unique perspective with more humanist honesty than glamour.

Q : “And at that moment I actually realised that a young age isn’t an excuse. And that it might have been possible to get to know things.”

8/10

R: Schindlers List (1993), Pianist (2002) Medal of Honour