Tuesday, August 26, 2014

James Brown:The Hardest Working Man in Show Business at the FIlm Society of Lincoln Center

This weekend Lincoln Center is going to be running a series of films dedicated to some of James Brown’s cinematic efforts. It’s an eclectic bunch of films that largely seem to have nothing in common other than Brown’s appearances or input. It’s also, largely a good collection of films.

Three of the films have Brown cameos as he appears to sing a song before splitting.

SKI PARTY has Brown showing up in what was an attempt to do start a Beach Blanket series on the ski slopes. Brown shows up long enough to sing I Feel Good. And because Hollywood wanted to appeal to everyone Leslie Gore also pops in. It’s an amusing trifle, but nothing special.

ROCKY IV has Rocky battling Dolph Lungren in the evil Soviet Union. An amusing piece of jingoistic fluff the film has Brown parachute in for a quick Living in America before getting the hell out of Dodge. It’s a disposable Rocky film, funny for all the wrong reasons, but in the right frame of mind it’s amusing.

If you’ve never seen THE BLUES BROTHERS you should get to Lincoln Center for this. This overblown, overdone film from John Landis is a amusing as all hell. Its full of great blues and soul singers including James Brown as a preacher. It’s funny, it’s thrilling and it has great music. It also needs to be seen big so you can really appreciate how freaking nuts they were when they made the film.

The series includes three interesting documentaries with Brown performances all are must sees.

The T.A.M.I. SHOW is a filmed record of concert that was supposed to be the start of some awards show. It was a one off, but the film, recently restored is a record of a time and place where Leslie Gore, James Brown, The Rolling Stones, Beach Boys, The Supremes and others could all share a single stage for a night. While the performances are up and down, the over effect is sure to put a smile on the face of any music lover.

WHEN WE WERE KINGS and SOUL POWER are two films that cover the events surrounding the Rumble in the Jungle, fight between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman in Zaire in 1974. The idea was to have the fight and a huge concert at the same time, but things happened and the time went off. While many people went to the fight (recounted in KINGS) less people ended up going to see the concert (SOUL POWER is the record). While Brown floats through KINGS he’s fully shown in his glory in SOUL. If you’ve never seen the films you should, both are excellent, and the chance to see them together is a huge plus.

The last film in the series is BLACK CAESAR. An exploitation film from 1973 it’s the story of a kid from the ghetto who rises up through the ranks of the underworld to become a kingpin. One of the more socially active films of the Blaxploitation cycle the film is actually pretty good even if it occasionally wears it’s heart on it’s sleeve. James Brown’s contribution to the film are a number of songs to the score

For more information and tickets check the website.

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