Archive for Howlin’ Wolf

Cadillac Records

Posted in Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 11, 2009 by Mystery Man



This movie is based on the true story of how a small music recording studio, Chess Records, located on the south side of Chicago, began recording blues music with Muddy Waters (Jeffrey Wright) and Little Walter (Columbus Short) in 1947, and eventually gave birth to rock and roll in 1955 with Chuck Berry (Mos Def). Record producer, Leonard Chess (Adrien Brody) has an ear for this different type of music, and believes he can cash in by signing up new talent such as songwriter, Willie Dixon (Cedric the Entertainer), Howlin’ Wolf (Eamonn Walker), and Etta James (Beyonce Knowles). Leonard Chess makes all of his artist part of his family and takes care of them. This is not an easy job for him, because they spend a small fortune on booze, drugs, and the high life. When Chuck Berry goes to jail, Leonard is able to find another talented performer, Etta James, to take his place. In the late sixties, as their music goes out of favor, Leonard Chess gets out of the record business. Douglas Young (the-movie-guy) .


As a music (and Beyonce) lover, I couldn’t help but be curious as to how good or bad this film was. After watching it this afternoon, I was pleasantly surprised.

Adrien Brody flexes his acting chops and reminds us all why he won that Oscar not too long ago. He really brings depth and believability to Leonard Chess.

Jeffrey Wright is best known to me as Peoples Hernandez from Shaft. I had no idea he was capable of handling such a taxing role as Muddy Waters. It seems as if he is familiar with Waters and may even have been a fan.

I’ve heard that Etta James was not happy with Beyonce playing her in this film. I’m a fan of Beyonce, but I can see Etta’s point. Beyonce just didn’t seem right for this role. For me, it seemed as though she was trying to channel her character from Dreamgirls. The only difference seems to be that Etta has meat on her bones and is grittier. Make no mistake about Beyonce’s talent, this just wasn’t the role for her, no matter what she thinks.

Mos Def, Cedric the Entertainer, Gabrielle Union, and Emmanuelle Chriqui round out this outstanding cast. Each steps up their game a notch and delivers arguably the best performances of their career.

You can’t have a film about musicians without a killer soundtrack, and this film is no exception, but I could have done without the rap version of a Muddy Waters song that played as the film ended. I know many think work such as that is genius, but I find it offensive and lazy. They’re just using someone else’s work as a part of their own because they are too lazy to come up with something on their own…just like Hollywood with all the reboots and remakes.

This film is obvioulsy about all the artists at Chess Records, but it seems to foucs almost exclusively on Muddy Waters. Now, I would have no issue with this, if the film was a Muddy Waters biopic, but it isn’t, so more screentime shouldh ave been given to the other acts, especially Howln’ Wolf and Etta James.

As far as biopics go, this is one of the more entertaining films in recent memory. It kept my attention from beginning to end, which is no easy task, let me tell you. The performances were top notch, as was the music. I think anyone that wants to watch this is more than likely going to be interested in it for the subject matter (not counting those who would watch just for Beyonce) and will enjoy it.

4 out of 5 stars