Directed by Darnell Martin
Cadillac Records just “isn’t as great as the music it showcases,” said Leah Rozen in People. Darnell Martin’s film tells the story of Chicago’s Chess Records and the black artists it helped make famous. Polish immigrant Leonard Chess founded the label in the 1940s. In the years that followed, he introduced the world to such legendary acts as Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry, and Etta James. Juggling so many big personalities, Cadillac Records “spins too many stories” and leaves audiences with a case of narrative whiplash.
Martin tries to cram all these musicians’ “complicated individual stories” into the label’s larger history, said Christy Lemire in the Associated Press. The film feels “even more cursory and rushed than the average music biopic.”
Some details may be missing, but that hardly matters, said David Edelstein in New York. The “major themes are beautifully worked out,” and the all-star cast is “stupendous.” Yet Adrien Brody as Chess, Jeffrey Wright as Waters, Mos Def as Berry, and Beyoncé as James are all outshone by the music itself.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- What is Molly? Everything you need to know about the party drug
- America created the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria? Meet the ISIS 'truthers'
- How American businessmen are ruining American business — and the U.S. economy
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- The Obama era is over. The presidency continues.
- Russia's giant spy ship was a high-tech disaster waiting to happen
- On ISIS, neocons and liberal hawks have a 'boy who cried wolf' problem
- How Harry Houdini escaped death
- 10 things you need to know today: September 2, 2014
- How to stop misogynists from terrorizing the world of gamers
Subscribe to the Week