Rating: 3 stars
Cadillac Records, about the trailblazing black blues musicians of 1950s Chicago and the Jewish white man who supported—and possibly exploited—them, is almost great.
It sure gets the music right—it’ll have you stomping your feet and howling along with the blues and early rock classics.
And it casts some great actors to depict these musical legends. Jeffrey Wright is Muddy Waters, the Mississippi sharecropper whose talent at bedding women was almost as great as talent on the guitar. Mos Def is the cocky, cheeky Chuck Berry, who knew he was the best and watched with bitter cynicism as white boys like the Beach Boys stole his riffs. Beyonce Knowles is Etta James, a junkie torch singer with a daddy complex. And Columbus Short is Little Walter, the gifted harmonica player with a hair-trigger temper.
Adrien Brody plays Leonard Chess, the likeable, self-made record executive who paid his talent in shiny new Cadillacs. But the film is ambivilant about Chess’s true nature. Does he genuinely care for his musicians? Or is he a musical parasite?...