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Cadillac Records (Martin, 2008): Story of Chess Records, w/ Beyonce & Adrien Brody

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Cadillac Records (Martin, 2008): Story of Chess Records, w/ Beyonce & Adrien Brody

Old 11-23-08, 07:44 PM
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Cadillac Records (Martin, 2008): Story of Chess Records, w/ Beyonce & Adrien Brody

Plot summary:
"Cadillac Records" chronicles the rise of Chess Records and its recording artists. In this tale of sex, violence, race and rock and roll in Chicago of the 1950s and 60s, the film follows the exciting but turbulent lives of some of America's greatest musical legends.

The story of how the blues became popular and gave birth to rock and roll begins at a dingy bar on the rough South Side of Chicago in 1947, where an ambitious young Polish émigré, bar owner Leonard Chess (Academy Award-winner Adrien Brody), hires a talented but undisciplined blues combo that includes quiet and thoughtful guitar prodigy Muddy Waters (Jeffrey Wright) and impulsive and colorful harmonica player Little Walter (Columbus Short). Fascinated by the sound of the music – and eager to cash in on the record burgeoning record business – Chess arranges a recording session for Waters. Waters' early recordings start moving up the R+B charts and receiving heavy play.

Chess treats his musicians like family – he buys them a Cadillac when they record their first hit record – although the line between business and personal sometimes causes conflict with his increasingly talented and successful stable of artists. After backing up Muddy on his early recordings, Little Walter becomes a star in his own right, but his quick temper and loud manner often run him afoul of friends and the law. He also finds that the only woman he can talk to is Muddy's girl, Geneva (Gabrielle Union), who struggles to remain loyal despite Muddy's poorly concealed affairs. Big Willie Dixon (Cedric the Entertainer), a songwriter and bandleader, also is a key member of the Chess Records family, as is Howlin' Wolf (Eamonn Walker), an intense and proud blues singer who develops a musical rivalry with Muddy.

But it's not until 1955 when a Chess artist finally "crosses over" into the realm of mainstream ("white") America – a skinny guy from St. Louis named Chuck Berry (Mos Def), whose dynamic "duck walk" and catchy, country-tinged tunes mark the birth of rock-and-roll. When Berry is arrested and jailed at the height of his career, Chess finds another talented performer to cross over – singer Etta James (Beyoncé Knowles), an emotionally scarred young woman whose vulnerability tempts Chess' loyalty and concern in unexpected ways.

As rock-and-roll grows more popular, the Chess artists find themselves revered by a new generation of musicians, but they have also each earned and lost a small fortune on booze, women and the high life, and their addictions begin to take their toll. Even as tragedy befalls, their music and their spirit remain strong: as the sixties wind down and Leonard Chess gets out of the record business, the blues live on.


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Old 11-23-08, 10:45 PM
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Adrien Brody + Jeffrey Wright = My interest.
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Old 11-24-08, 09:56 AM
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Looks like Lando on guitar.

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Old 11-24-08, 10:23 AM
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Beyonce doesn't look like Etta James. She should have gained at least 30 pounds for the role.
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Old 11-24-08, 11:01 AM
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Being a HUGE, lifelong Muddy Waters fan, I'm not sure if I should be looking forward to this movie or dreading it - at least Wright is a phenomenal actor, but still... Muddy!
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Old 11-24-08, 11:41 AM
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Clip of Mos Def as Chuck Berry. Personally, I don't know how Chuck Berry sounded in real life, but this looks like Mos playing Mos playing Chuck.

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Old 11-24-08, 11:46 AM
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Chuck Berry is still alive.

But here's how he sounds in real life:


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Old 11-24-08, 11:49 AM
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I dunno, after watching those maybe he does sound like Mos then. My general dislike of Mos as an actor may be clouding my judgement.
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Old 11-24-08, 11:53 AM
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Speaking of Chuck Berry, I hope there's a scene where he takes a life-changing call from his cousin Marvin.
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Old 11-24-08, 03:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Groucho View Post
Chuck Berry is still alive.
But just barely. I saw him live last year, and he could barely remember any of the lyrics - he stopped several songs midway to ask the audience for the words! His guitar playing was also pretty, er, rudimentary. Still, I was pleased as punch to be able to see a legend live, despite the ragged performance.
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Old 11-24-08, 03:35 PM
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Mos Def sounded just like Chuck Berry when comparing those clips.
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Old 11-24-08, 08:38 PM
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Watch four clips from the film here.
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Old 11-24-08, 10:37 PM
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Originally Posted by NoirFan View Post
But just barely. I saw him live last year, and he could barely remember any of the lyrics - he stopped several songs midway to ask the audience for the words! His guitar playing was also pretty, er, rudimentary. Still, I was pleased as punch to be able to see a legend live, despite the ragged performance.
That's because Chuck Berry doesn't pick up a guitar unless he's getting paid for it. The first song that night was the first time that he touched a guitar since his last gig.
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Old 11-25-08, 05:07 PM
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Variety review
Approaching the blues with the enthusiasm of an overcaffeinated brass band, helmer Darnell Martin nonetheless makes some kind of music with the percolating '50s biopic "Cadillac Records" -- mostly because she mines a righteous, mythic sensibility out of the story of Leonard Chess, Muddy Waters and the birth of the Chicago blues. Jeffrey Wright's Waters is unforgettable, Eamonn Walker gives an unnerving performance as rival bluesman Howlin' Wolf, and Beyonce Knowles' Etta James should put bottoms in seats.
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Old 11-25-08, 05:50 PM
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I haven't been to a movie theater since Dark Knight, but ^that praise is enough to make me return.
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Old 11-26-08, 03:10 PM
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Total of ten clips now.
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Old 11-29-08, 10:10 AM
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that youtube clip is awesome
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Old 12-01-08, 09:57 PM
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Not surprisingly, Cadillac Records is not entirely truthful.
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Old 03-12-09, 09:54 AM
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Re: Cadillac Records (Martin, 2008): Story of Chess Records, w/ Beyonce & Adrien Brod

Finally saw this and found it to be incredibly boring. The pacing was just so damn slow in many of the scenes, I almost fell asleep. Too bad, I was really looking forward to this. But, not good.
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Old 03-12-09, 11:31 AM
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Re: Cadillac Records (Martin, 2008): Story of Chess Records, w/ Beyonce & Adrien Brod

Originally Posted by Daytripper View Post
Finally saw this and found it to be incredibly boring. The pacing was just so damn slow in many of the scenes, I almost fell asleep. Too bad, I was really looking forward to this. But, not good.
I went to see the film hoping it would be about the music. It wasn't. It was just another cheap Hollywood melodrama, with more sex, drugs, cigarettes and alcohol than music. And what little music was included is just a pale echo of the originals. And, aside from Mos Def and some of the lesser known supporting players (e.g. the guy who plays Howlin' Wolf), the acting was generally pretty poor. I never believed any of the lead actors were who they were supposed to be. I didn't necessarily believe Mos Def was Chuck Berry either, but I found his performance at least entertaining. But not enough to save the movie.
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Old 02-03-10, 01:25 AM
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Re: Cadillac Records (Martin, 2008): Story of Chess Records, w/ Beyonce & Adrien Brod

I was entertained by this, even if it wasn't the best music biopic ever -- liberal with the truth like most such movies (Chess' brother no longer exists, etc.) But good performances generally -- I liked Wright as Muddy Waters and I thought Eammon was absolutely amazing in his brief turn as Howlin' Wolf, who was always my favorite of the Chess Gang. Beyonce, on the other hand, was pretty terrible as Etta James, I thought. It ain't bad though if you're interested in the Chess Records era, I think.
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