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Movie Review: Cadillac Records

Alternate Title: In the Beginning...

Story: So does it matter if history is fudged, scrambled and rewritten if we get to listen to some wonderful music? As far as we were concerned - it did not matter at all. Written and directed by Darnell Martin, this 'based on a true story' tale attempts to portray the beginnings of rock 'n roll, via Chicago's Chess Records.

Leonard Chess (they did not include his brother, Phil at all) scours the streets of Chicago looking for talented black musicians and ultimately starts a record company. We meet so many fascinating recording artists along the way that could have their own feature length films that one's head spins. But then there is the music.

The film scratches the surface about the many socio-economic topics of the time and then we listen to some more fabulous music. Issues of race, infidelity, drugs, booze, guns and payola are thrown in between the amazing music. There are small treasures throughout the film that allowed me to overlook some lesser moments.

The beginning of rock 'n roll was not pretty - but it sure sounds good. Take a holiday break and toe tap to the music.

Watch the trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7QJyAXfG8NM

Watch the real Etta James singing 'At Last': http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=edGDt5izxIg

Acting: Adrien Brody as Leonard Chess hits the perfect mark. He is one fine actor. Jeffrey Wright as Muddy Waters can do no wrong in my book. Gabrielle Union as the long suffering wife of Muddy, Geneva Wade, can make you cry. Columbus Short as troubled Little Walter is terrific. Cedric the Entertainer as Willie Dixon the narrator looked like he had a fine time doing this role. Eamonn Walker as Howlin’ Wolf was truly amazing. I have to look further into this guy. Eric Bogosian as Alan Freed was a scary look-a-like. Mos Def as Chuck Berry was wonderful and Beyoncé Knowles as Etta James, nearly stole the whole show.

Trivia: Adrien Brody is the only actor to win a Best Actor Oscar when nominated alongside four previous Oscar winners. In 2003, at 29, replaced Richard Dreyfuss as the youngest actor ever to win the Best Actor Academy Award, for his role in The Pianist (2002). Jeffrey Wright won Broadway's 1994 Tony Award as Best Actor (Featured Role - Play) for Tony Kushner's "Angels In America: Perestroika". Mos Def, is a slang term that means "most definitely." Mos Def Is a vegetarian.

Predilection: I like rock 'n roll.

Critters: Sigh - a previously alive beautiful fox now draped as a stole.

Sex Spectrum: Rock 'n roll is code for sex.

Blatant Product Placement: CADILLACS!

Soundtrack: Wonderful

Visual Art:They wonderfully reproduced 1950's Chicago by filming in New Jersey. Who would have known?

Theater Audience: About eight other toe-tappers and us.

Sappy Factor: 0

Quirky Meter: 0

Squirm Scale: 0

Drift Factor: It could have been edited by about 15 minutes.

Predictability Level: High

Tissue Usage: 0

Oscar Worthy: No

Big Screen or Rental: Here are a list of the recording artists with Chess Records in the '50's. Muddy Waters, Little Walter, Howlin' Wolf, Sonny Boy Williamson II, Lowell Fulson, Memphis Slim, Jimmy Rogers, John Lee Hooker,
Willie Mabon, Buddy Guy, Little Milton, The Flamingos, The Moonglows,
Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Clarence "Frogman" Henry, The Dells, Billy Stewart,
Bobby Charles, Dale Hawkins, Benny Goodman, Gene Ammons, Eddie Bo,
Etta James and Jody Williams

Length: A bit under two hours.