Minutes ago I finished watching the story of the late Godfather of Soul, Get On Up for the first time. About ten hours ago I learned the shocking news (along with the rest of the world) that the actor who portrayed James Brown, Jackie Robinson, and took on many other roles with excellence and grace, Chadwick Boseman has died.
This has been a quiet Saturday for me, as are many weekends in light of the ongoing pandemic and endless race-demic plaguing the world. As if the police-shooting of Jacob Blake early in the week wasn't more salt on a wound that has been open for far too long, the death of Chadwick Boseman feels like adding hand sanitizer on top of that salt.
Nearly every weekend since this pandemic began, I have made it my duty to watch a film, or two, or three. But not just any films. Films of great signifinance and representation of Black culture. Do the Right Thing, Malcolm X, What's Love Got to Do With It, Harlem Nights, ATL, The Color Purple. Many of these and more, I have either rewatched, or watched for the first time.
As I scrolled through dozens of Chadwick Boseman dedicated post on every SNS platform I participate in, I knew exaclty what films I would be watching this weekend.
As someone who seeks knowledge and is process oriented, I absolutely LIVE for a good biopic or biographical series. VH1 Behind the Music, if you will. E! True Hollywood Story. And TV One's Unsung is probably one of my favorite shows ever, as they range from One Hit Wonders to singers who were simply "gone too soon." As lover of music, I am always fascinated by the lives singers live beyond the music they make. Their pain. Their laughter. Their friends. Their enemies.
A successul biopic is one that keeps me listening and doing more research long after the credits have faded to black.
I am listenig to "Get On Up" as I type this and adding the biographical film of the same name to an unwritten list of my favorite biopics, which include Ray and Cadillac Records.
Although I was made known of James Brown since childhood, and appreciated his contribution to music, his life story was a mystery to me. And whatever apreciation I had for him as an artist, was slightly clouded by rumors that he was abusive. Plus the audacious nature of his overall style and swag probably scared my younger self.
But this biopic does so much right! It is a beautiful representation of a talented soul.
I was first impressed by Boseman's execution of Brown's distinct speaking voice. On the production side, I truly loved the year timestamps and the use of actual live performance footage. I also loved when Boseman broke the fourth wall and talked directly to the audience. This gave a more intimate feeling and made me want to trust James Brown.
And the best thing about this movie was that it humanized James Brown. I got to peek into his personal life and childhood and maybe make connections to the decisions he made as an adult. And despite what I think about his personal life and relationships, he was a world class performer.
During the final scenes of the movie, I found myself tearing up with graditude. Here's what I was thinking (and what I always think upon the deaths of greats): Chadwick Boseman and James Brown no longer walk this earth. I can never shake their hands or have a conversation with them. But they left behind awesome legacies. I am only a click away from those legacies. Life is so short and so precious. But how blessed are we to have experinced them and to be able to access the art they left behind.
"Do right by yourself. Ain't no other way to live." - James Brown
A couple times throughout the film, James Brown said this to someone he came across. Do right by yourself. I interpret this as, listen to your intuition. Trust yourself. Be kind to yourself! Do you boo!
Chadwick Boseman was a class act, a exemplory human being, an angel. He didn't just play a king, he was and is worthy of all honor and recognition he will continue to receive for the mark he left on this earth.
If your life gets summed into a two-hour biopic, what highlights would be included? What part are you living out now? Who else's biopic would yours intercept with??
And just for fun, what are your top three music biopics??
Let me know you've read this post by sharing it and your answers with me, either privately through a message, or publicly on your social media!
Sunday is 20 minutes away and I'll be checking out 42 for the first time!
Until next post!
P.S This is my favorite James Brown song EVERRRR!
ENJOY......Or fight me! ......I swear I'm all bark and no bite!