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Great movie!! Outstanding performance
Terrible Movie
I got a call after work and my friend invited me to attend the premier last night, I can honestly say I had not seen one trailer read anything on this film and I was clueless to what it was about. First off you will be in for a music history treat unlike so many music based films this opens you up to a genre that has been somewhat ignored but it's significance in the shaping of all music genres is amazing. I over heard at least five different groups of people aftwards all saying they had no idea about Chess records and how influential Muddy Waters was. I am a huge fan of Jefferey Wright and he man does he deliver! Definetly Oscar worthy on this one, Adrianne Brody was pretty even nothing to write home to mom about. The most surprising performance of the night Beyonce Knowles! Wow I am so not a fan of Beyonce's acting, her music is ok but that doesn't even do it for me, but hey you must give credit when it's due and boy does she deserve it on this one she ahs changed my mind if he continues down this path we may see Beyonce the Actress! I wont spoil it but believe me she did her thing. So over all I give it an excellent rating it's entertaining informative beautifully shot, fantastically scored and everyone acted very well.
I am not a top movie critic but i have a little column in the schools newspaper. So far people have agreed with my reviews. This movie follows the tale of a music genius Lenard Chess portrayed by(Adrian Brody) and the legeneds who have scuplted music's rock in roll. Lets start off whith Mrs. Beyonce Knowles, i have to say she shocked me with her performance but i wish she had a little more substance, she gives a memorable portrayel but he singing lacked emotion, but she has truely become a actress. But i thought that she should have been given more camera time and gave it a little more volume to her character. The movie's downfall is that it should have been shot better for a director's stand point. The rest were great, i have to say the reason i singles Beyonce out was because i believed she improved as a great actress.
Bring up Chess Records to hard-core blues fans and Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, Willie Dixon, Howlin' Wolf, John Lee Hooker, and Etta James, singularly talented artists, are bound to come up. With an ear and eye for talent and shrewd business skills, Leonard and Phil Chess and the talented musicians, songwriters, and singers they signed to their record label, enjoyed commercial and critical success and, almost as importantly, the future musicians they influenced. In Cadillac Records, writer-director Darnell Martin (I Like It Like That), explores the complex, conflicting, contradictory relationships between Leonard Chess (Phil barely makes an appearance) and the musical artists he promoted and produced during Chess Records' heyday almost half a century ago.

While Cadillac Records centers on a twenty-year period, from the founding of Chess Records in 1950 to its dissolution in 1969, it focuses on the professional and personal relationship between Leonard Chess (Adrien Brody), a Polish-Jewish immigrant, and Muddy Waters (Jeffrey Wright), the blues great Chess signed to Chess Records in the early 1950s. Waters, a Mississippi transplant who honed his songwriting and performing skills as a street singer and the leader of a club band, gains almost instant success when Chess takes records one of his songs. After the song tops the R&B charts, Leonard rewards Waters with a Cadillac. Awarding Cadillacs to star performers, sometimes in lieu of royalty payments, quickly becomes a Chess tradition. Another musician, Little Walter (Columbus Short), Waters' ace harmonica player, gets a hit of his own, but becomes hooked on alcohol and drugs.

As the years pass, other artists sign on with Chess Records, including Howlin' Wolf (Eamonn Walker), another blues singer-songwriter who becomes Waters' natural rival, Chuck Berry (Mos Def), the country-western influenced R&B singer-songwriter credited with "crossing over" into the pop mainstream and influencing the development of rock-n-roll, Willie Dixon (Cedric the Entertainer), a session musician and songwriter, and finally, Etta James (Beyonc
Go there if only for the music alone in the glory of the start of rock n' roll. I could have had even deeper depth to all the musicians, but VERY enjoyable.
If ratings were from the audience I sat in, it was a winner for veryone there.
The most valuable thing about "Cadillac Records," the new film profiling the rise of Chess Records in Chicago, is the great supporting performance from Beyonce Knowles as Etta James. Ms. Knowles is clearly headed for big things on the screen. She is infinitely more interesting here than she was in "Dreamgirls."

The core of the story focuses on Leonard Chess (played in a lackluster, flat way by Adrien Brody), a young Jew from a lower-class background who opens a "Negro club" in the black area of Chicago. It is never explained why a white boy would do this. Like everything else in this film, the motivation of Chess is left vague.

When we meet him, he is explaining to his girlfriend that he can't marry her until he has enough money to take care of her. Later he is suddenly married, but it is not clear whether the wife is a new woman or that girlfriend from the earlier scene. This is one example of how "Cadillac Records" is not just shallow but also incoherent. Many times I felt like I was watching excerpts from a film, with a lot of the story development spliced out.

After opening his club, Chess meets Muddy Waters, who is played by Jeffrey Wright. Wright gets a lot of praise from critics, but he leaves me cold all the time. Here once again, Wright shows himself to be more of an impersonator than an actor. He focuses on mastering Waters' mannerisms, not on unlocking anything about his character. It's the kind of performance that belongs in a TV movie.

We watch Waters stumble upon his unique sound by trying out various things, such as an amplifier. The sound really comes together when Waters meets Little Walter, played by Columbus Short, a relatively unknown actor. Short is ferociously kinetic, bouncing around the set like a madman. But there's an emptiness to the performance. It seems to be random energy. I never felt like I got a sense of who Little Walter was, only that he had a temper. I urge Short to start taking acting lessons from whoever has been coaching Ms. Knowles.
Later Chuck Berry and Howlin Wolf wander into the movie, providing even more impersonations. Mos Def plays Berry and Eamonn Walker plays Wolf. Walker gives the more interesting performance. Unfortunately the script doesn't give him much dialogue, but what Walker does with his face and body must be seen to be believed. "Demonic" was the word that came to mind for me during Walker's first scene. I wanted to learn so much more about Howlin Wolf. Hopefully someone will make a great dramatic film about him someday.

Every now and again, "Cadillac Records" brings up race politics but never in a way that gels. Was Chess a classic white exploiter? Was there a special way that Jews exploited blacks that was different from the way Christians did it? Or was Chess one of the few good whites in America, giving black artists their only chance at fame and riches? Or was it a mixture of both? The film skirts around these issues in a very hazy way.

The incoherence hits a crescendo when Chess is shown getting beaten up by black men outside his recording studio, with a bizarre voice-over suggesting that "times were changing." The audience is left in the dark. The film then cuts to everyone having a good time in the studio again. Bizarre tangents lie half-baked like that all over the place.

I wish someone had had the opportunity to work with Ms. Martin while she was writing the script to help her figure her thoughts out. She had a lot of ideas while she was writing, but she never got quite clear about what she wanted to say.

But anyone who cares about the blues, R&B, or early rock-n-roll will no doubt enjoy a lot about this film. Even a mediocre film about this subject matter is worth seeing. If it causes more people to want to know about Waters, James, Wolf, et al., then "Cadillac Records" will have provided a great service. I also hope it tempts more talented screenwriters to investigate this fascinating subject matter.
Based on a true story, "Cadillac Records" is an anecdotal movie starting in 1941 about the legendary Chess Records founded by Leonard Chess(Adrien Brody) as a way of finding the American dream, which he personally saw in the body of a Cadillac which he would give to all of the musicians he signed, the first being the great blues musician Muddy Waters(Jeffrey Wright). In time, he would also sign Little Walter(Columbus Short), Chuck Berry(Mos Def), Howlin' Wolf(Eamonn Walker) and Etta James(Beyonce Knowles).(A movie could be made about any one of these musicians.) Along with being great musicians, they were also larger than life personalities, and the movie does not sugarcoat their lives, especially Chess who never played by the rules and may have shortchanged his musicians. But they were never so wronged as by the white and English musicians they would influence and who would steal their music from them.

In its attempt to fit all of this into one movie, "Cadillac Records" develops a peculiarly wonky sense of time(Elvis Presley came before the Beach Boys, right?) where nobody seems to get any older, despite it taking place over a couple of decades. The movie works best in fits and bursts, even with this talented cast. Mos Def was born to play Chuck Berry. Walker and Wright have a certain intense chemistry playing opposites. But the air goes out of the room whenever Knowles makes an appearance and I have a hard time deciding whether it is the writing or the performance. In the end, what matters is the music which is simply sensational.
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