Tate Taylor

Get On Up

Tate Taylor’s Get on Up starts off with a literal bang. We first meet James Brown (as portrayed by Chadwick Boseman) while he is wielding a shotgun and preaching about the best practices for using someone else’s bathroom. An idiosyncratic start to a film about the Godfather of Soul, sure, but it works to show how the mighty may have (temporarily) fallen. Brown is clearly a charming and charismatic man (two traits that are played to the hilt by Boseman), but after a rough childhood in the rural outskirts of Georgia and a meteoric rise to fame, it is clear Mr. Brown is struggling with some very real demons. Get on Up aims to show us why, but falters along the way. Growing up in a broken home where love and violence were often one and the same, Brown’s father (Lennie James) runs off his mother (Viola Davis) and then gives Brown to the town’s madam Aunt Honey (Octavia Spencer). Brown learns crowd-pleasing showmanship bringing in business to Aunt Honey’s, but thanks to an eye for the finer things (and no way to afford them), Brown eventually finds himself locked up in jail with no hope for parole. Brown may get frustrated when things do not go his way, but he never gets down on himself, and even in jail finds himself drawn to what makes him feel good: music.

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Richard Nixon

Director Tate Taylor has made a name for himself with the struggles of 1960s-era African-Americans. First came The Help, in which a black Southern maid persevered against all odds to net Taylor a bajillion awards nominations. Now comes Get On Up, in which a black Southern James Brown will persevere against similar odds, with Taylor standing just out of sight with arms outstretched (in anticipation of a new armful of statuettes). The director’s newest project, which has just been announced through The Hollywood Reporter, is more of the same. Only, swap out “black people” for “astronauts,” and “persevere” for “die horribly.” The film is called In the Event of a Moon Disaster and is based on a Black List screenplay by Mike Jones, about a completely factual 1969 speech written for then-president Richard Nixon. The speech was Nixon’s fallback if the Apollo 11 mission (you know, the one where man first walked on the moon) was to horribly backfire- in the event of a moon disaster (hence the title), Nixon had a memorial speech to read on live TV. The film will follow all these same events, with one slight difference. In Moon Disaster, the mission will fail, and Nixon will need to memorialize our fallen space heroes with his fun historical footnote of a speech.

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Get On Up

Question! Does the funk stop? Ever? Think on it. Ready? The answer is no, the funk does not stop, as the snappy, jazzy tagline to Tate Taylor‘s James Brown biopic, Get On Up, reminds us. Keep that in mind until, oh, let’s say August, when the film hits screens, and you might be appropriately ready for the kind of moving and grooving that apparently awaits us in Taylor’s next film. The latest biopic to dance on to the big screen focuses on the Godfather of Soul’s trip to the big time (played here by 42′s Chadwick Boseman), spanning his childhood all way up to the height of his success. Although we can probably expect to see to lots of fun dancing and hot singing and some of the best hairstyles cinema has offered so far this year, the film’s latest trailer focuses on something a bit more dramatic: Brown’s fraught relationship with his mother (played by Viola Davis), who abandoned the Hardest Working Man in Show Business when he was just a kid. Get ready to get a little teary.

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Get On Up Trailer

Awwww yeah, things are about to get a little more funky up in here, everybody. The trailer for the long-gestating James Brown biopic, Get On Up (Can we be honest with each other, here? Maybe there could have been a better title besides reaching for a familiar song title), has landed and it’s exceedingly catchy. The story of the Godfather of Soul is apparently a comprehensive look at the legendary singer’s formative years up until the height of his success, and it’s not skimping out on any of the music that made the man so famous. The film, directed by The Help‘s Tate Taylor, stars Chadwick Boseman (42) as the titular soul man as he maneuvers through a rough childhood, time spent in jail and through all that fame business. Being a superstar is kind of a big part of this story, if you didn’t gather that on your own. The trailer touches on a part of the singer’s life that you might not have heard about: his volatile relationship with his mother (Viola Davis), who abandoned him at age six to leave him to be raised in a brothel with his aunt, played by Octavia Spencer.

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James Brown

Just like the man himself, Tate Taylor‘s James Brown film is quickly becoming the hardest-working biopic in show business. Early this week the film got a star and a green light. Then came the rumors that Octavia Spencer, Viola Davis, and Nelsan Ellis would all be joining the supporting cast (although as of now, those three roles are still unconfirmed). And today marks the announcement of a title and release date. The title? Get On Up. The release date? October 17, 2014. Things are chugging along nicely for Get On Up, although we’ve still got no word about how Chadwick Boseman will be taking on the hefty singing and dancing duties of his starring role. There’s also been no mention of any prosthetics or makeup – if Boseman is going to be grafting anything onto his face to look more like the Godfather of Soul, or if he’ll just be Chadwick Boseman in a wig and the rest will be left to our imaginations. The fall release date does hint the powers that be at Universal (the studio releasing Get On Up) might be angling for the film to pull in a few statuettes come awards season. It’s not an insane idea. Tate’s last feature, The Help, won approximately a billion awards – the majority of them going to the film’s cast (which, not coincidentally, also featured Spencer and Davis). So long as Boseman gets the singing and dancing down pat, he might just have a shot.

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Chadwick Boseman

There have been rumblings of a James Brown biopic for more than a decade, but last night all those rumblings finally came together in a blast of furious funky fervor. Director Tate Taylor (of The Help) first joined the project almost two years ago, and now Variety is reporting that Chadwick Boseman, who recently played Jackie Robinson in 42, has been cast as the Godfather of Soul. Immediately afterwards, the film was greenlit. Immediately after that, Tate announced that the film would be shot in Mississippi (although Brown was born in South Carolina and raised in Georgia). The film will, like Ray and Walk the Line and so many other musician biopics before it, follow Brown’s impoverished childhood and rise to the top of the charts. So the James Brown movie is finally getting made. But, as with any on-screen portrayal of a musician, the question must be asked: will Boseman be singing, or will Brown’s vocals be piped in after the fact? There’s no answer yet, but I’d put my money on lip-synch. Brown’s infectious energy will be difficult enough to capture, and unlike Jamie Foxx or Joaquin Phoenix, Boseman will have to spend hours upon hours (upon weeks, upon months) mastering Brown’s fanciful footwork. That alone might get him some serious recognition. God forbid he uses any kind of foot double.

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James Brown

According to Deadline Hollywood, Tate Taylor (The Help) is in talks to take on the James Brown biopic that Brian Grazer has long wanted to make. If he signs on the dotted line, he’ll be joining an interesting production partner: Mick Jagger. The Hardest Working Man will be celebrated from his early beginnings in abject poverty to his rise on the global scene as a musical icon with a script comes from Jez and John-Henry Butterworth (Fair Game) who are no strangers to telling real-world stories. Hundreds of Brown’s songs have appeared in movies – making his impact cross media – and he also acted, most notably in The Blues Brothers and (as himself) in Rocky IV. Beyond that, his legacy is unarguably titanic, a performer who spanned decades and audiences while making a heavy impact on popular culture. His story is one worth telling, so hopefully this group does it true justice. And now the usual question that comes with any biopic of someone this famous – who do you get to play him?

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Culture Warrior

Usually I’m quite cynical about end-of-year lists, as they demand a forced encapsulation of an arbitrary block of time that is not yet over into something simplified. I typically find end-of-year lists fun, but rarely useful. But 2011 is different. As Scott Tobias pointed out, while “quiet,” this was a surprisingly strong year for interesting and risk-taking films. What’s most interesting has been the variety: barely anything has emerged as a leading contender that tops either critics’ lists or dominates awards buzz. Quite honestly, at the end of 2010 I struggled to find compelling topics, trends, and events to define the year in cinema. The final days of 2011 brought a quite opposite struggle, for this year’s surprising glut of interesting and disparate films spoke to one another in a way that makes it difficult to isolate any of the year’s significant works. Arguments in the critical community actually led to insightful points as they addressed essential questions of what it means to be a filmgoer and a cinephile. Mainstream Hollywood machine-work and limited release arthouse fare defied expectations in several directions. New stars arose. Tired Hollywood rituals and ostensibly reliable technologies both met new breaking points. “2011” hangs over this year in cinema, and the interaction between the films – and the events and conversations that surrounded them – makes this year’s offerings particular to their time and subject to their context. This is what I took away from this surprising year:

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Ever since Melissa McCarthy stole our hearts and upset our stomachs with a breakthrough, gross out performance in Bridesmaids, we’ve been tracking the skyrocketing of her career very closely. In rapid succession it was announced that Bridesmaids director Paul Feig was developing a project specifically for her, that she landed a role in Judd Apatow’s next directorial effort This is Forty, and also that she scored a big part in the upcoming Jason Bateman-gets-pushed-around-again comedy ID Theft. That’s not even the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the things that McCarthy has been up to since Bridesmaids was released, however. The Hollywood Reporter has a cover story on the actress that talks about her winning an Emmy for her role on Mike & Molly, getting the opportunity to host Saturday Night Live, starting her own production company, and even starting up her own design label. She’s like the Jay Z of comedic actresses. The part of the article that interested me the most though, was the announcement of a couple more film projects she has in development. They did not give too many details about the first one, but apparently it’s a dark comedy that McCarthy is co-writing with The Help writer/director Tate Taylor. They know each other from their days of being in The Groundlings together and the script is currently half-finished. The other project, that we get a couple of plot details about, is called Tammy. It’s the project that McCarthy says she is most excited about, […]

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr makes big plans to publish a best-selling book that women across the nation will read in hoity-toity book clubs. Step one: Move to the deep south and get raised by an African American maid. While Kevin tries to figure out how to move past that step, he gets a job delivering pizzas and lives in constant fear he’ll be used in a bank heist. Then he cheats death by avoiding the Glee concert movie, but lives in even more constant fear that the flick will hunt him down and make him watch it.

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