Thursday, June 25, 2009
Tribute to Michael Jackson
When I was around ten years old, I remember being obsessed with Michael Jackson's two-sided cassette single containing the songs Black or White and Remember the Time from his Dangerous album. The first album of pop music that I ever owned was Dangerous, and the summer after I bought it, I begged my father to let me have Thriller, the album which made me absolutely fall in love with music. I still believe Thriller to be one of the five best albums ever made.
At the age of 50, Michael Jackson died today in Los Angeles after suffering cardiac arrest. Anyone younger than I probably never truly appreciated the genius that Jackson was as a performer. Unfortunately, in 1993, everything changed when he was accused of sexually inappropriate contact with a young boy which led to an all too public downward spiral from which Jackson never recovered.
But today, let us all remember the joy that Michael Jackson provided to so many who were fortunate enough to witness his incalculable talent! Up until today, he was the most gifted musical performer alive, and my thoughts and prayers go out to his family as well as his millions of fans that grieve the loss of one of the true giants of pop culture!
Rest in Peace Michael!
Gone Too Soon- Michael Jackson
Monday, June 22, 2009
Cadillac Records (2008) ****
Directed by Darnell Martin
I reluctantly added Cadillac Records to my Netflix queue after hearing that the great A. O. Scott of The New York Times, the second best film critic around after Roger Ebert, called the film one of the ten best of 2008. You can’t always account for even the best tastes, and so I sat down to watch with low expectations, looking forward to nothing other than checking Cadillac Records off of my watch list. How pleasantly surprised I was while viewing, and reflecting quickly on what I had just seen once the credits began to roll, I judged Darnell Martin’s docu-melodrama about the emergence of one of the great labels in music history to be a truly wonderful movie! For me, though nowhere near one of the ten best films of 2008, Cadillac Records goes down as one of the year’s three most underrated films. The music is just fantastic, and the young, relatively inexperienced cast brings alive the great and tragic players in Cadillac Records’ formative years. Everyone knows the names Etta James (Beyonce Knowles), Chuck Berry (Mos Def) and Muddy Waters, but for me, it was the profoundly sad stories of those more obscure legends such as Little Walter (Columbus Short), Willie Dixon (Cedric the Entertainer) and Howlin’ Wolf (Eamonn Walker) which fascinates the most. Sadly, this box-office flop is mostly known as Beyonce’s movie, and though she certainly performs the hell out of her role and is quite fun to watch, she doesn’t hold a candle to Jeffrey Wright, who brilliantly portrays Muddy Waters with a perfect blend of reverence and condemnation. This performance alone makes Cadillac Records worth seeing. Thankfully, the musical performances are also fantastic, with the exception of an original song by Beyonce which sounds like something Etta James would absolutely scoff at! Adrien Brody, who is quickly becoming one of my least favorite actors, once again makes me doubt that he has what it takes to truly carry a film on his shoulders. I don’t care if he’s won an Oscar; he’s been bland in every film I’ve seen him in since The Pianist, and his lack of charisma as Cadillac Records’ founder Leonard Chess adds nothing at all to the film itself. Otherwise, take my and A. O. Scott’s advice and give an underappreciated gem of a film a worthy viewing!
Labels: 2008, Musical, Drama, Four Stars
The Class (2008) ****1/2
Directed by Laurent Cantet
The Class, based on a book by the film’s star Francois Begaudeau, is one of the most exhausting films I’ve ever seen, and if you’ve seen the movie, I bet you find that surprising. Begaudeau wrote about his real life experiences teaching in
Labels: 2008, Drama, Four and a Half Stars, Foreign Film, French