Tamara's Journeys

Journeys as great as the destinations.

Marshall

November 5th, 2017

…one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Our pledge of allegiance doesn’t command us to pick and choose liberty and justice for those of a certain race or religion. It clearly states “for all.” just as we’re supposed to love one another. Sadly neither has happened throughout history. Marshall is a movie about a great American that stood in the gap for such justice.

Set in the 1940’s, Marshall follows pioneering Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall in his earlier years as a lawyer for the NAACP. A married white socialite in Greenwich, Connecticut, accuses Sterling K. Brown of rape and attempted murder. Out of fear of losing her marriage, and status in the community, she was willing to destroy another human being.

It’s fair to say Chadwick Boseman is becoming one of the best actors of his generation. Chadwick Boseman is suave in his portrayal as the future Supreme Court Justice. He reminds me of a young Sydney Poitier with his quiet confidence and his cool style. Boseman has taken on film versions of such icons as Jackie Robinson in 42 and James Brown in GET ON UP, so he likely jumped at the chance to play the revered figure, Thurgood Marshall. Mr. Boseman has true movie star screen presence, and portrays the young Mr. Marshall with a self-assured swagger that accompanies a brilliant legal mind – a mind that refused to be ignored during a time it was desperately needed. The film does portray Marshall honestly as a smoke, drinker and hints at carousing. The common flaws of a great man.

Josh Gad plays opposite of Boseman as a young Jewish attorney, Sam Friedman. Slowly a friendship develops between the two men and they soon find that they have more in common that they first thought. Neither is an accepted member of the community; one because of his religion and one because of his race.

This film is a historical heavyweight with a very good screenplay. The touches of comedy bring a welcome balance to its tension-filled courtroom and difficult subject matter. I appreciate that Marshall takes its subjects seriously, but doesn’t take on a dreary tone doing it. The scenes in the courtroom are intense and keep you interested in the action. As the case develops, these scenes get more and more engaging.

In 1967 when Lyndon Johnson appointed Marshall to the Supreme Court it wasn’t his race that made Marshall’s appointment unique. It was the whole level of experience in the kind of law he practiced for people like Sterling K. Brown. Marshall believed the goal is justice and the law must work for all for justice to be realized.

Overall the movie is both gripping and inspiring. The entire cast is excellent, and I was emotionally invested the whole time. Marshall will move viewers both to tears and anger from start to finish, and I highly suggest you go see it. Vow to follow your moral compass even when it’s hard.

Get On Up

August 1st, 2014

This morning I was blown away by Chadwick Boseman, and you will be too when you see him in “Get On Up.” In case you don’t know, “Get On Up” is a movie chronicle of James Brown’s rise from extreme poverty to become one of the most influential musicians in history. Boseman as Mr. James Brown gives the viewer a fearless look inside the music, moves and moods of Brown with ease.

The director tells the rags-to-riches story in an odd, nonlinear fashion with times when Boseman’s character addresses the camera and audience directly. Still, the film shares a similarity with biopics on Johnny Cash and Ray Charles. Both of those pioneering icons were haunted from a young age by the deaths of their brothers. Brown’s early trauma was being disowned by his parents as a boy in rural Georgia in the 1930s. But where Cash and Charles come off as tragic and sad figures in their films, the lifelong mantra of Soul Brother No. 1 was to “look out for yourself,” because no one else would.

No doubt, everyone (including myself) will be hyping the electrifying performance of Boseman. You may recall he played another African-American hero, Jackie Robinson in last year’s 42. He nails Brown’s rhythmic, funky rasp down pat, and his dance moves are outstanding. Maybe even Oscar worthy.

But if one is placing bets on Academy Awards night, the money could also be placed on Nelsan Ellis who gives an affecting, nuanced performance as Bobby Byrd, James Brown’s long-suffering but loyal bandmate and quasi-brother. Ellis was up for the lead role, but settled for the sideman character when Boseman got the job. Basically the same thing happened in real life between the two, when James Brown took over the Famous Flames and became the ruthless, unlikable boss of the band.

Where the film fails is in its fizzled, melodramatic ending. The problem is that Brown the man had no third act. Early in the film, Brown is shown upstaging the headlining Rolling Stones in a 1964 concert broadcast, the T.A.M.I. Show. Jagger and the Stones found out the hard way that nobody follows James Brown. As it turned out, not even James Brown himself.

Get yourself on up to this movie and don’t be surprised if you find yourself dancing in your seat, and as you leave the theater. This is the Godfather of Soul, and he would want you to feel the funk. Get On Up!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tamara's Journeys

Journeys as great as the destinations.