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Saturday, March 13, 2010

CADILLAC RECORDS (2008)


There’s little excuse for this one. The rise & fall of Chess Records, the great Chicago-based company that brought The Blues and Rhythm & Blues to national attention in the ‘50s, has all the sex, violence, music & cultural interest necessary for a dozen movies, and there’s enough talent on hand here to make it happen. But Darnell Martin, megging from her own heavy-handed script, drags it down with too many formulaic storylines, over-cooked performances, inept pacing, structural cul-de-sacs and historical inaccuracies that can’t be sloughed off as ‘dramatic license.’ And the constant visual clichés. Oy! Then, exec producer Beyoncé Knowles starts chewing up the scenery as a drug-addled Etta James and you know you’re stuck inside a ‘Vanity Production’ of monumental ambition. Only Eamonn Walker cuts thru all the by-the-numbers ‘50s atmosphere as a demonically vivid Howlin’ Wolf, but he’s working in a vacuum. Hell, even the insert shots of spinning ‘45s seem to be turning at 78rpm. It doesn’t exactly help to build confidence.

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