Documentary Film: ‘Mr. Dynamite: The Rise of James Brown’

A perfect companion piece to last fall’s Brown biopic, “Get On Up,” which took some liberties with the story of the man known as The Godfather of Soul yet captured his spirit. Now here from HBO’s superb documentary division is an excellent factual recounting of Brown’s rise from abject poverty to become a genuine musical innovator, cultural icon, and hero with sometimes clay feet and very deep flaws and foibles. But in the end a truly great American entertainer the likes of which we shall never ever be fortunate enough to see again.

TV Series: ‘Tin Man’

This top-rated Sci-Fi Channel miniseries from 2007 dares to take on “The Wizard of Oz” from a far different perspective with a very different story, yet succeeds handily in creating a return to Oz that makes its own distinctive mark. Zooey Deschanel plays “DG,” an updated Dorothy with modernist smarts and touches of cynicism yet still a good heart who’s a waitress in a Kansas diner before a tornado (of course) swirls her back to the mythical kingdom where she’s a princess that must save Oz from the predations of her possessed sister and ultimate ruin. In a way, this take is closer to the vision of Oz creator L. Frank Baum in his series of books than the classic “Wizard of Oz” film, and ideal to share with kids raised on the movie as they come into adolescence while at the same time a fairy tale adults can enjoy as I did.

Album: ‘Going Back Home’ by Wilko Johnson & Roger Daltrey

This tough, muscular and smoking slab or real rock’n’roll is a stunner. Johnson is a guitarist well-known in the UK as the leader of the pub rock band Dr. Feelgood – at best a cult act with American listeners – but recently achieved some Stateside recognition for his acting role in “Game of Thrones.” Daltrey is of course the lead singer of The Who. Their collaboration brings out the best in both, Johnson playing wiry whiplash guitar and Daltrey singing at his most visceral. If you really love to rock, this platter is a blue-plate combo sure to satisfy.

From The Progressive Populist, April 1, 2015


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