Lord have mercy, was he good! I finally got to see Get On Up, this year's big screen biopic about the late James Brown. Actor Chadwick Boseman plays "The Godfather of Soul." His performance alone was worth the price of the ticket. Boseman seemed to be in a seance trance, channeling the spirit of James Brown and not just acting. He was that amazing. The low, gravelly voice, the body posture, the swagger, the soul, the look in the eyes, the famous onstage dance moves -- it's all there.
In The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, which opened this month, she is the cosmopolitan, witty, charismatic New York University professor. And she is a major babe playing that scholarly role. In the new drama, Davis works opposite fellow co-star from The Help, Jessica Chastain.
Seriously, Hollywood? Neither Pulitzer Prize-winning Broadway play written by August Wilson has been adapted for the big screen. Hollywood, you can't give us a film version of 1985's Fences starring Viola Davis and Denzel Washington...or Viola Davis and Ving Rhames -- if Denzel's busy? You can't give us something sophisticated and smart like an All About Eve starring Viola Davis and Lupita N'yongo? Cactus Flower was a hit movie romantic comedy in 1969 starring Ingrid Bergman, Walter Matthau and newcomer Goldie Hawn. It was remade in 2011 as Just Go With It. Jennifer Aniston and Adam Sandler took on the Bergman and Matthau roles. Why couldn't we get a remake starring Viola Davis and Liam Neeson or Jeff Bridges or Don Cheadle or Colin Firth?
Back to Mr. Boseman. Highlights of Get On Up include Soul Brother #1 James Brown keeping his cool on a plane being shot at while he and his band entertain the troops in Vietnam, Brown performing on network TV with a white-as-milk cast on a variety show, and his reunion with his mother. The last 20 minutes of the movie are very good. The rest of it has sort of a sanitized made-for-TV movie feel. But the acting, across the board, is tops -- starting with Chadwick Boseman.
As for Viola Davis, I'll be watching her in the new series created by TV powerhouse, Shonda Rhimes. The name of the ABC series is How To Get Away With Murder.