Cadillac Records: Dangerous Waters
Adrien Brody and Jeffery Wright star in one of the best movies about the true birth of Rock and Roll ever made–Cadillac Records. There have been many films made about the troubled conception, gestation and eventual delivery of the great money pool that is R&R, but Cadillac Records takes a different tack. Not the fluffy bunny that is A Hard Day's Night, nor the desperately-seeking depravity of Almost Famous, Records is real people, not good or bad, just people, trying to do the best they can for those they love.
There are no evil, rotten record moguls or completely-insane addicts in the film, no horribly-abusive husbands or grasping egotists, only very damaged and confused folks thrust into a world of money and fame far beyond there ability or experience. The importance of this film lies in its lack of melodrama and its portrayal of real angst. None of the overwhelming pain of a Dream Girls or Ray, but a type of pain we all feel. It is in the music, the incredible, incomparable music that the screaming torture of the soul is expressed in the film. Paraphrasing Brody, as Leonard Chess, the owner of Chess (Cadillac) Records, Muddy Waters (Jefferey Wright) does not live his pain he releases it in the music.
There are good performances. Brody and Gabrielle Union (as Geneva Wade, Muddy's woman), very good performances; Jeffery Wright and Columbus Short (as Lil' Walter) and one phenomenal performance (look out academy ) by Eamonn Walker as Howlin Wolf, which should delight those of you who love TV.
One note, when Walker is on the screen it is impossible to take your eyes off him. When Walker and Wright are in the same scene the scarcely-restrained fury rips the screen in half. That the director and actors were able to maintain the greatest onscreen hatred this reviewer has ever seen is a pure "D" miracle. Walker rivals even the great Kirk Douglas for his onscreen virulence. Even more, Walker managed to pull some deep pain out of Wright, it was as though these two men reviled each other on and off the screen.
I am terribly afraid that the lack of overacting, immensely powerful music and lack of cheap shots at celebrities might keep this film from the Oscars, but it would be a tragedy. The film is rightly understated, positive in some extremely important aspects and excellent in illustrating a racial divide, not exploiting it. One last point...Mos Def makes a fun loving, delightful Chuck Berry and Beyonce Knowles makes up for her lack of acting skills when not singing, by bringing them both barrels when she is. The woman can really sing.
I'm going to give the movie 4 stars out of 5, and this is one of my favorite movies of the year. All music lovers must attend.