Monday, January 19, 2009

2008 The Year in Review (Movies)

There were several movies I saw in 2008 that I thought were quite good. One of the best would have to be Tyler Perry's "The Family That Preys" This poignant tale of a friendship that transcends time, race and greed showed that Perry can not only do comedy but he can do drama too. The performances by Alfre Woodard and Kathy Bates were outstanding.
"Soul Men" gave us the final look at two legendary performers, the late Isaac Hayes and the late Bernie Mac. This film which, I believe to be loosely based on the lives of Sam Moore and David Prater (a.k.a. Sam & Dave) shows us another side of Samuel L. Jackson not previously seen.....the dancer.
Meryl Streep was convincing in the role of the determined nun fighting injustice against overwhelming odds in "Doubt" which deals with a very touchy subject that most people would rather avoid.....sexual advances on youth by people of authority within the church.
I was surprised that the late Heath Ledger was not given Oscar consideration for his role in "Batman: The Dark Knight" This was the first time that I've seen a villain so diabolical that he attacks not only his adversaries but his accomplices too. This is a stark contrast to Cesar Romero who played the role of the Joker on the Batman television series in the sixties.
My favorite movie of 2008 would have to be "Cadillac Records" primarily because it focuses on a era that I lived through and fondly remember. This was the music that my father and my uncle listened to. It's the music that I remember as a child. Chess Records had a roster that could rival Motown; Chuck Berry, Etta James, Muddy Waters, Little Walter, Howlin' Wolf, The Dells, The Moonglows, Ramsey Lewis, Fontella Bass, Billy Stewart, Sugar Pie DeSanto, Pigmeat Markham, Little Milton etc. The triumphant, yet tragic life of Leonard Chess left its mark on American popular music in the 50s and 60s at a time when Blues was making that transition to Rhythm and Blues. Although many critics downplayed Beyonce's portrayal of Etta James I felt she was quite good in the role of the young biracial singer with the famous white father who didn't want anything to do with her. Although he didn't have much screen time Mos Def was both believable and hilarious in the role of Chuck Berry. This was unquestionably one of the year's best.....especially if you lived through the era.

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