Tag Archives: James Brown

Kush Pays Tribute to The Greatest @ The Film Boutique 14 July

 

The UK’s No 1 Exhibition Platform of Urban Films the
‘Film Boutique’ Presents a Tribute to ‘The Greatest’

cassius-clay-ali

Kush Films the UK’s No 1 exhibitor of urban films continues the current season of films with two great film nights at the Film Boutique and the Regent Street Cinema, London. We invite film fans to join us on Thursday 14th July (7.30pm / films: 8.30pm) for a special tribute to ‘The Greatest’ Muhammad Ali with a screening of the ® Oscar winning documentary ‘When We Were Kings’ featuring the Ali vs Foreman fight which is regarded as one of the greatest boxing upsets in history. This fantastic documentary also features the historic ‘Soul-Power’ music concert which was part of the build-up around the fight featuring iconic musicians such as ‘The Godfather’ James Brown, BB King, Bill Withers, Miriam Makeba and others.

As a bonus patrons will not only get to relive this historic occasion they will also be entertained by the young actors of the North London based BAP theatre group with two short dramatic Ali tribute performances. There will also be poetry from the talented Nat Nye, this is a one-off event so don’t miss this fantastic tribute to the greatest iconic sportsman that ever lived Muhammad Ali.

Date: Thursday 14th July
Time: 7.30pm (networking in bar) for 8.30pm start
Tickets: £15 (students: £11)
Venue: Regent Street Cinema, 309 Regent street, London, W1B 2UW

Bookings: www.regentstreetcinema.com
Tel: 0207 911 5050

When-We-Were-Kings2
When We Were Kings (PG)
On October 30, 1974, perhaps the most famous heavyweight championship boxing match of all time took place in Kinshasa, Zaire: the “Rumble in the Jungle” between champion George Foreman and challenger Muhammad Ali. In historical footage and new interviews, this documentary explores the relationship between African-Americans and the African continent during the Black Power era in terms of both popular culture and international politics, including the brutality of then-dictator Mobutu Sese Seko.

Zaire 74 Music concert: was a three-night-long music festival to hype the fight and took place on September 22–24, 1974 and included in Africa for the first time performances by; James Brown, Celia Cruz and the Fania All-Stars, B.B. King, Miriam Makeba, The Spinners, Bill Withers, The Crusaders, and Manu Dibango as documented in the 2008 film ‘Soul Power’.

Director: Leon Gast
USA/1997 / 1hr 29 mins / PG

Featuring: Muhammad Ali, George Foreman, James Brown, Spike Lee, B.B. King

Chadwick Boseman Rising Star

By Leslie Byron Pitt
25.11.14

 

chadwick_boseman

Chadwick Boseman already has two iconic African-American parts under his belt and with his upcoming role as Black Panther in the upcoming Marvel features; Captain America: Civil War and Black Panther, Boseman looks set to become one of his generations top African-American leading men.

The talented Boseman was born in 1977, in Anderson, South Carolina to Nurse Carolyn, and furniture businessman Leroy Boseman. A graduate of T.L Hanna High School in 1995, Boseman later graduated from Howard University in Washington D.C with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in directing, before attending the British American Drama Academy in Oxford, England.

Before embarking on a television career, Boseman worked as a stage actor, performing in a number of stage productions as well as writing and directing his own work. One of his most notable stage roles is the 2002 play Urban Transitions: Loose Blossoms. Written by Ron Milner, Urban Transitions is an edgy drama in which the fast and loose income from drug running, slowly inflects a newly suburban African American family. His performance earned him an award from AUDELCO, a committee which strives to stimulate interest and support in performing arts within black communities. From a writing point of view, his most notable work, was his third play, Deep Azure, a hip-hop theatre production, in which a black, anorexic woman’s fiancé is shot by a black police officer. The play, which is loosely based on an actual shooting was nominated for a Jeff Award in 2006.

It was 2003 in which Boseman gained his break on television with a variety of TV episodes, including Third Watch, ER and Law and Order. Around this time, as well as starring film shorts, Boseman made sure to keep hold of his behind the scene passions. He wrote and directed the 18 minute short Blood over a Broken Pawn (2008), which deals with a traumatized coffee shop owner stumbling into a dangerous situation with a chess master after an altercation with an innocent child.

From 2008 Boseman found himself in more prominent roles, including considerable appearances in the taut mini-series Persons Unknown, created by Usual Suspects writer Christopher McQuarrie, and Drama series Lincoln Heights, in which he plays injured Iraq War veteran, Nate. The shadow of war also followed Boseman in a leading role as a troubled veteran alongside Troy Kittles (Olympus has Fallen) in 2012’s The Kill Hole. During this time, Boseman found himself in episodes of hit shows such as Fringe, Justified and Castle.

In 2013 Boseman made the jump into movies, performing as one of Baseball’s most famous stars; Jackie Robinson, in the biographical feature 42. The film, written by Academy Award winner; Brian chadwickbosemanHelgeland became the best premiere for a Baseball film in Hollywood History with a $27.3 million opening weekend. Despite only being released theatrically in the U.S and Canada, the film grossed a total of $95 Million and surpassed its $40 Million budget. 42 has been well received by audiences and critics alike, with Boseman’s performance has the stoic, yet heroic Robinson garnered high praise. 42 gained high praise when it was endorsed by the first lady, Michelle Obama at a screening and film workshop, which Boseman also took part in, at the White House. Mrs Obama was quoted to have said that “We believe everybody needs to see this movie.” the kind of praise that many hope more black movies will achieve in the future.

In 2014 Boseman has turned that praise into Oscar Buzz with his most electrifying performance to date. Get On Up; the celebratory biopic of James Brown, has had nothing but superlatives placed on the 37 year old’s performance as Brown. John Patterson (Guardian) described the display as chadwick-boseman-as-james-brown“volcanic”, while Tim Robey (Daily Telegraph) states that the performance holds a “wicked attitude”. In my own review of the film for kushfilms.com: I considered Boseman’s poise and understanding of Brown as a persona is just too strong to ignore. It’s a performance is so powerful that you can see the cast running off the energy it creates.

In an article for the Guardian, it had been stated that there was pressure on the director; Tate Taylor, to place a rapper in the main role. Such a cynical commercial ploy was quickly nixed by Taylor, who could only see Boseman in the part, based on a hunch. Boseman himself considered the role to be too big a role for an up and coming actor, and almost dismissed it based on the fact he had just played Jackie Robinson. To find out that after accepting the role, Bosemon had only 6 weeks to learn the various moves of Brown before principal photography, only makes the performance even more impressive.

The part of Brown has generated a healthy amount of Oscar buzz for the young actor, but it’s his next role, that should help take him into the upper echelons of Hollywood’s movers and shakers. It has been recently announced in October, that Boseman has signed a five movie deal with Marvel to chadwick_boseman_black_pantplay Black Panther in his own feature film, and including a supporting role in Captain America 3: Civil War. The role marks a significant movement for the Marvel studio diversifying their movies towards other markets. Comic fans may know more about Panther than many of the laymen who paid their money to see The Avengers, but many felt the same about Ironman in 2008. Boseman has shown the ability to take a larger than life character and ran with it and the match-up could be a landmark point in the current successful comic book cycle.

The future does indeed look radiant with this handsome, young talent. Boseman’s upcoming prospects may allow him not only climb the Hollywood mountain as an actor, but possibly allow him to propose further projects with his name at the writing/directional helm. While such a statement can currently only be raised as an assumption, I must admit that the future of African American Film is sparkling a little brighter.

Film Review: Get On Up (James Brown Biopic)

 

Written By Leslie Pitt
06.11.14

 

get-on-up-poster

The musical biopic suffers from the similar issues that we’ve recently reserved for fantasy/sci-fi/comic movies. The film is released and a hardcore contingent will gripe at the “authenticity” of the piece. Are all the facts correct? Are they in the right place? For myself, the biopic doesn’t necessarily need to be “right” to be on point. I do need a musical biopic to get me invested into the work and spirit of the artist that’s being portrayed. It shouldn’t take too many liberties, but the biopic must be able to straddle both the history as well as the sense of entertainment that the performer themselves would give. Get on Up; the musical biopic of funk and RnB legend James Brown, struggles with the balance, but holds a lead performance who can happily carry the weight upon on his glossy, purple clothed shoulders.

As with many musical biopics, Get on Up suffers from common issues found within the sub-genre. The narrative arc obviously rises and falls with each convenient hit track. The ex-wife makes angry appearances. Aspects such as overspending and womanising are forced into signposted info dumps while we have to see the struggling artist, warm the soul of the one rich person who’s willing to give him a chance. We get the long suffering best friend who sticks by the artist and of course the winking nod of the other talented individual who sends the artist on their way, but can only be seen in one scene, because they’re equally as well known in real life and it’s not their movie (although Brendon Smith steals his scene as Little Richard). And yes, let me just say it now, when the artist hits rock bottom, drugs are of course involved.

I kept most of the above paragraph generic because, as we’ve seen in other musical biopics (Ray being the most notable), these elements seldom feel fresh. It’s not to say that these things didn’t happen to James Brown, but as with previous musical bios, such points are quite typically portrayed. We don’t expect such moments to surprise. Even the film’s offbeat approach to the narrative does little to hide the seams. At his lowest ebb, a stoned Brown joyrides a truck and brings it to a halt when the cops gain the upper hand. As Brown steps out of the car, he is shown as his childhood self. This is something that makes sense in the narrative, as one of the film’s themes is about Brown’s lost innocence, but feels too obvious as a motif.

None of this truly matters, however, as Chadwick Boseman’s star making performance, coupled with the downright funkiness of Brown’s musical material makes the film worth watching. I can honestly say, as a film fan who is not too interested in Awards, I’ll be disappointed if Boseman is not a frontrunner. His charm continuously pulls the film up from its bootstraps, while his mannerisms are note perfect. Boseman’s poise and understanding of Brown as a persona is just too strong to ignore. Now signed on as The Black Panther for the next wave of Marvel movies; this will make him well-known, but it’ll be Get on Up that will show the man’s formidable talents.

Director Tate Taylor does well to harness Boseman’s energy anyway he can. The musical sequences crackle, while the screenplays humour is well drawn out due to the display. The chemistry shared between Boseman and Nelsen Ellis as Bobby Byrd is also sizeable, although the cast as a whole all do well to feed off the central performance.

It becomes clear that Boseman’s portrayal is stronger than the screenplay’s, which does a good job broadening the appeal of Brown and sanitising a lot of his controversy. Taylor uses a novel choice of having Brown break the forth wall and address the audience. Yet without some of James’ wilder stories, the idea is only able to go so far. It’s interesting to compare this with not only Taylor Hackford Ray (2005), which, while very entertaining, brings similar issues with it, but also Steven Soderbergh’s Behind the Candelabra (2013), which is far less hesitant in approaching its subject’s darker shades.

In the same way of the likes of Ray or Notorious (2009), Get on Up doesn’t tell the full warts and all story (then again with the producer’s being Brian Glazer and Mick Jagger, why would it?).

Despite this, it’s hard not to get whipped up in the infectious nature of Boseman’s portrayal of Brown. Get on Up is far from perfect, but it is an entertaining feature which should get, those who enjoy Brown to dust off their LP’s and younger watchers to look him up on Wikipedia. In essence, that’s all we need a biopic to do.

 


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Forthcoming Musical Biopics

written by Lee Pinkerton
25/07/14

If you like biographical films about your musical heroes as much as we do here at KushFilmsOnLine, then you’re in for a treat over the next few months. There is not one, or two, but three lined up for release before the end of the year, and three more in production which should hopefully find their way to us next year.

First to get a UK release is a documentary on the controversial inventor of Afro-beat –  Nigeria’s Fela Kuti.

finding_fela_poster_art_pFinding Fela 
There have been literally dozens of documentaries on Jamaica’s reggae ambassador, but virtually nothing on his Nigerian equivalent –Fela Kuti the creator of Afro-beat. A film on this great man’s life is long overdue, especially since the young musical offspring of his creation has enjoyed such success of late.
Whilst drumming up support for his new Broadway musical, FELA! producer Stephen Hendel described Nigerian Afrobeat exponent Kuti as “without question one of the great composers and musicians and activists of the second half of the 20th century.”
Alex Gibney’s Finding Fela  is described as “A soulful ‘Felabration’ of the magnetic Kuti, with archive footage of the snake-hipped lothario interspersed with  live recording of the hugely successful FELA!, the first Broadway show to ever make the journey from New York to the bustling Nigerian capital city of Lagos.”
Gibney’s Finding Fela serves as a long overdue reassessment of a hugely influential artist who – until relatively recently – had been criminally overlooked by those outside of his home nation. The filmmakers have tried to provide as rounded and comprehensive a portrait of the Afrobeat pioneer as was possible given the relatively sparse archive footage available. Gibney flits between Hendel’s simplified stage production and Kuti’s real-life political persona: a man who taught his country that music could be their weapon against oppression.

Finding Fela enjoys a UK release on September 5th.  Look out for it

 

Get On Up get_on_up_large poster
Another musical pioneer who career has been strangely neglected on-screen, given his great musical influence and his iconic status is the ‘Hardest Working man in Showbusiness’, James Brown.  That is set to change with the release this year of Get On Up.  It chronicles the Godfather of Soul’s rise from extreme poverty to become one of the most influential musicians in history.
Chadwick Boseman stars in the title role, and Boseman has form when it comes to bio-pics, having previously played Jackie Robinson in movie 42, (which told the story of the first Black man in to play baseball in America major leagues). It also stars Oscar winner Viola Davis as Susie Brown, Octavia Spencer (who we recently saw in the powerful true story  Fruitvale Station), songstress Jill Scott as DeeDee Brown, and our very own Lennie James as Joe Brown.
If this movie is true to his life story then it should provide a bumpy ride, because as well as creating Funk, dining with Presidents, and (at his peak) owning private jets, a radio station and a record label, Brown’s life was peppered with accusations of wife-beating, drug abuse and imprisonment.

Not long now till we find out, as Get On Up is released in the UK on September 26th

Jimi: All Is By My SideAll-is-by-my-side-movie-poster-295x441
This film stars rapper-turned-actor Andre Benjamin (aka Andre 3000 from rap group Outkast) in the title role of guitar legend Jimi Hendrix in this revealing biopic from Academy Award-winning writer-director John Ridley.
Covering a year in Hendrix’s life from 1966-67 as an unknown backup guitarist playing New York’s Cheetah Club to making his mark in London’s music scene up until his Monterey Pop triumph, the film presents an intimate portrait of the sensitive young musician on the verge of becoming a rock legend.
Benjamin’s previous acting credits include Be Cool, (the disappointing sequel to Get Shorty), and Four Brothers alongside Mark Walberg and Tyrese.  All Is By My Side  is also noteable as it was written and directed by John Ridley who wrote the screenplays for the films Undercover Brother (2002) and Cold Around the Heart (1997) and the story for Three Kings (1999). Ridley is also the author of seven published novels, his first, Stray Dogs, was made into the feature film U Turn (1997) directed by Oliver Stone and starring Sean Penn, Jennifer Lopez, and Nick Nolte. Most recently he was also responsible for the screenplay for the Oscar winning 12 Years A Slave.
All is By My Side is slated for release in the UK on October 10th

That takes us up until the end of the year.  The next three movies have yet to have release dates and two are mired in controversy.

 

Nina!

Revealed - Zoe Saldana as Nina Simone

Revealed – Zoe Saldana as Nina Simone

Nina! is the story of the late jazz musician and classical pianist Nina Simone including her rise to fame and relationship with her manager Clifton Henderson. It is described as ‘a  rare and poignant love story about a tormented genius who eventually finds love and peace’.
In development for at least 5 years, Mary J. Blige was initially attached to star in the film, but she was eventually replaced by Zoe Saldana who brought more international box office gravitas to the production.
But fans weren’t too pleased at news of Saldana’s casting. While her acting may not be an issue, fans and critics say she doesn’t look the part noting her thin frame and fair skin. 
The one constant actor throughout the ordeal is our own David Oyelowo, who plays Simone’s Paris-based manager Clifton HendersonMike Epps plays Richard Pryor in the film.
During a recent interview Saldana discussed the role and took the time to respond to her critics.
” I’m human. I wish I was made of steel and so certain things wouldn’t affect me. So it did affect me, but I couldn’t let that deter me from doing what I needed to do.
Just like everybody else, I feel very strongly about Nina Simone, and that was a story that needed to be told. I do believe that if everybody had more information about how this all came to be, it might help; but then again, I’m not here to get the acceptance of everyone — I’m here to be an artist first. Hopefully, people will enjoy the film and I helped shed some light on this amazing icon.”

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Saldana’s role isn’t the only thing causing a stir with the film.  Cynthia Mort, the director of the film, filed a lawsuit against the film’s producer claiming she was left out of certain key decisions.  Mort says as a result, she is not pleased with the direction of the film.  She is seeking monetary damages as well as “a declaration that the defendants can’t make decisions without her meaningful approval and consultation.”
No word yet on when the film will be released.

 

NWA – Straight Outta Compton

Unveiled by Dr. Dre, Ice Cube & director F. Gary Gray  - three of the cast members of NWA bio-pic

Unveiled by Dr. Dre & Ice Cube – three of the cast members of NWA bio-pic

Any true fan of hip-hop knows the importance of the group NWA.  With their 1988 debut album they put the West Coast of the US on the hip-hop map, and helped define the sub-genre of Gangsta Rap. Last month, Universal announced that Straight Outta Compton, a biopic about the gangsta rap pioneers, will finally get a release date after years in development. Is also worth noting that some 25 years later, two of the groups original members are still major players in the film and music industry.  The men in question, Ice Cube and Dr Dre, who are also producers of the film, tweeted out a photo of the cast.

Since director F. Gary Gray (Friday, Set It Off, The Italian Job) held an open casting call for the film last April, the roles of Ice Cube, Dr Dre and Eazy-E have been cast, mostly with up and coming actors.  Ice Cube’s son, is slated to play his dad, who left the group in 1989 and went on to have an impressive solo career. Relative unknown Jason Mitchell will play role of Eazy-E. Corey Hawkins, who had a bit part in Iron Man 3, will play rapper-turned-headphone-impresario Dr Dre. (The roles of MC Ren and DJ Yella have not yet been cast.)
But this month, the casting of female roles caused major controversy.  A casting call for the movie was posted on the Facebook page of the Sande Alessi Casting company requesting the “hottest of the hottest” girls with “great bodies,” to the “fine” girls who “should be light-skinned,” right down to the girls who are “not in good shape” with “medium to dark skin tone,”
Understandably this request was met with accusations of  colorism and sexism.  Hopefully the production team can put this right, and get filming back on track in time for its scheduled release next year.

 

Don Cheadle as Miles Davis

Don Cheadle as Miles Davis

Miles Ahead
And last but by no means least, filming has just started on a picture that will tell the story of jazz legend Miles Davis. Miles Ahead doesn’t attempt to tell his whole life story, but instead will focus on the time when Davis was ending his 5-year “quiet period” out of the public eye. Most of the movie is set in 1979 New York, when Davis recruits reporter Dave Brill (played by Ewan McGregor) to retrieve a recording stolen from the musician’s home.  It will also feature flashbacks to Davis’s affair with former wife Frances Taylor from 1956 to 1966.

It is a very personal project for Don Cheadle who directs and stars in the title role, and co-wrote the script. It is Cheadle’s directorial debut.  Shooting has just started in Cincinnati, and was years in development due to difficulty raising the finance. Cheadle eventually turned to crowd funding, raising over $343,000 with a campaign on Indiegogo.

No idea when this will get a release, but in the meantime let’s look forward to the release Finding Fela in September.

Lee Pinkerton