In this tale of sex, violence, race, and rock and roll in 1950s Chicago, "Cadillac Records" follows the exciting but turbulent lives of some of America's musical legends, including Muddy Waters, Leonard Chess, Little Walter, Howlin' Wolf, Etta James and Chuck Berry.
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At The Movies
Cadillac Records (PG) * * * *
Director:; Darnell Martin
Stars: Adrien Brody, Jeffrey Wright, Beyonce Knowles
Audience Suitability: PG
Rating: * * * *
Running Time: 109 Minutes
Release Date: Feb. 5, 2009
By ROBERT WALDMAN
Sit back and learn a bit about music culture with Cadillac Records, an insightful film from Columbia Pictures now topping the charts at the Ridge Theatre. Based on a true story director Darnell Martin enlightens the uninitiated on a new movement that transformed music culture for good.
Turbulence reigned down on the United States through the 50s and 60s. Race was a big dividing line and we should be greatful that today an Afro American has shattered the last great glass ceiling barrier. During the years of Civil Rights struggles blacks were often relegated to mediocre jobs and were indeed considered second class citizens. Music was one early way members of this ethnic community could achieve some degree of success, much like sports became in the 70s and 80a. Trust an immigrant Jewish boy from Poland and a poor Black sharecropper from Mississippi to help pave the way for a new sound that would take the music world and community at large by storm.
Main driving force Leonard Chess had everything going against him. Down on his luck with a girl he loved whose father did not approve the young entrepreneur opened a night club in the south side of Chicago. Into this joint came a host of would be performers but one in particular caught LeonardÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s eye.
Out on the street sat a likeable man strumming away at his guitar. His sound was special and when Leonard met Muddy Waters there was magic in the air. After a slow start these opposites formed a special bond and along came other black performers into the mix. Chess records was born and the owner would shower the boys with presents like Cadillacs. Hence the nick name Cadillac Records appeared and it would turn into the prime bastion for up and coming musicians and singers whose origin was rhythm and blues with that distinctive southern soul.
Lyrics and that sense of hardship caught on as did a new act mounted by an upstart named Chuck Berry. Not wanting to miss out, women got into the act and a singing sensation named Etta James would join the ranks. By the early to mid 60s Leonard Chess had built up a dazzling array of talent that ended gaining unbelievable success in North America and dare I say throughout the world. Cadillac Records is their story and itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a rags to riches tale complete with infighting, backstabbing, heartaches and lots of pain.
Darnell Martin does a top job of capturing the turbulent times of the day and fleshes it out with a great club atmosphere. Nothing new emanates from the studio sessions but you canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t help but get captivated as these new musicians hone their craft and ultimately seduce and sway a nation.
Cast-wise, the actors here are terrific as is the story of the friction between the newcomer artists. Jeffrey Wright (Casino Royale) turns in a solid performance as the tight-lipped Muddy Waters with Adrien Brody (King Kong) perfectly capturing the aloof yet masterful Leonard Chess, a man who saw talent and new how to mould those larger than life personalities into bankable stars. And the business of generating publicity for these acts is also deftly tackled here.
Inauguration head-lining Beyonce Knowles (The Pink Panther) deserves another standing ovation when she belts out time Ã¢â‚¬â€œ honoured classics from the lips of Etta James. Better still is the concert footage and ample back stories concerning encounters with the law, drugs and groupies. Worth also noting is the energetic dancing of Mos Def (16 Blocks) as the inimitable Chuck Berry.
Past films on musicians and producers have been documented. Here we get to witness first how a new sound, rhythm and blues, entered mainstream American culture. Full of great conflicts and battles between artists and management types helps make Cadillac Records a fun trip down memory lane with memorable heart-driven performances.
Read more reviews by Robert at www.moviereviewssite.com
got to give 5 stars!!!
the cast is great and they all give in to their role! please don't stop because we love it!
the movie was overall great def a 5 stars!!!
the movie is biographical into one of the greatest stories ever told in music. ms etta... the other people... beyonce was def great from the way she walked to the the way she sang....
girlll... i though etta got paid!
the movie does move rather fast and def is able to stay up to beat... i mean it does get it back into the day when that crazi music got its first hit!
the beatles get in the movie as well..
the cars are nice int he film never!
the time was classic and the movie was def a laugh/drama/action/RIGHT on script!!
55555---- stars and u rate it!!!
im telling you this is THE MOVIE TO SEE!!!!
def pick up the soundtrack with beyonce nas solange rahpell sadiq and mos def!
CADILLAC RECORDS- movie and soundtrack a best of 08 before 09 comes!
def go see it ... it is worth falling in love with this music period again!