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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Fine Art > Fraud > Forgery > Crime > Mental Illness > Biopic > Backstage Musical > Soul > Funk > Art And Craft (2014/Oscilloscope DVD)/Get On Up: The James Brown Story (2014/Universal Blu-ray)/The Identical (2014/Cinedigm Blu-ray w/DVD)

Art And Craft (2014/Oscilloscope DVD)/Get On Up: The James Brown Story (2014/Universal Blu-ray)/The Identical (2014/Cinedigm Blu-ray w/DVD)

Picture: C+/B- & C/B- & C+ Sound: C+/B- & C+/B- & C+ Extras: C/C/C+ Main Programs: C+/C/C

The wall between real and fake turn up in all three of the following releases involving the arts...

Sam Cullman and Jennifer Grausman co-directed the documentary Art And Craft (2014) tells the true story about a man named Mark Landis who managed to forge major art works for years before getting caught and fooling so-called experts who did not know as much as they thought they did. Inspired in part by TV shows like The Saint with Roger Moore that he watched with his father, he felt doing hoax works would put him into this world and he even donated every single work as if he were a rich donor, so what could he be arrested for.

It was only when an investigator discovered what the so-called art community missed, that the forged works were at several museums claiming they had the originals (don't these people know how to use computers or have any sense of unity or organization?) did Landis eventually get discovered and uncovered. Several of the experts, nice people, naively have asked him to please stop, but why can;t they just try and find much better ways to spot frauds from the real thing as their job requires? At 89 minutes, this can be a bit repetitive and some questions are never asked, but it has its amusing moments.

Extras include a feature length audio commentary track with the co-directors and third, separate (!) co-director Mark Becker, Original Theatrical Trailer, Deleted Scenes, post-screening Q&A audio piece with Landis and Faux Reel featurette with fellow documentary subjects Mark Leininger & Aaron Cowan.

Tate Taylor's Get On Up: The James Brown Story (2014) has the director of the overrated The Help trying to do a biopic and backstage musical at the same time, ultimately failing miserably with both. Chadwick Boseman (who was good in 42) plays the adult Brown in various stages of his later years ranging from an opening where he pulls a shotgun on some people renting a space for a meeting in a business building he owns to Brown's breakout appearance on The TAMI Show (reviewed elsewhere on this site) with mixed results. His Brown breaks the fourth wall early on, which in this case, spells doom for this film very early on, but one too many flashbacks to Brown's tough childhood sink this and the script is too restrictive to let the narrative soar.

The makers (specifically Mick Jagger) secured all the original music and its rights, so they are here (unlike What's Love Got to Do With It? where Tina Turner rerecorded all of her older hits, Mr, Brown was no longer with us to do so) sounding decent, but there is also a real lack of energy here and not enough about the music overall. Boseman has his moments, but it all seems mechanical and lacks spontaneity, then I was reminded of how much more authentic Eddie Murphy was doing Brown in his hilarious 'hottub' skit that this film in all of its (over-)seriousness never manages to achieve. Seeing this film, you would never know or understand why Brown was the legend and phenomenon he was. Dan Ackroyd is a plus as Brown's manager who helps him become a huge success and keep more of his money by beating unquestioned schemes in the business that is one of the more honest aspects of the script, but the film just cannot go all the way to work and is one of the year's big disappointments.

Extras include Digital HD Ultraviolet Copy for PC, PC portable and iTunes capable devices, while the Blu-ray adds Full Song Performances, Extended Song Performances, Deleted/Extended/Alternate Scenes and two featurettes: The Founding Father Of Funk and On Stage With The Hardest Working Man, while both discs add four more featurettes and a feature length audio commentary track by Taylor.

Finally we have Dustin Marcellino's The Identical (2014) is as odd as anything here or that we have seen musically lately, a sort of backstage musical of its own with the ambitious idea that they could do at least a half-century of American pop music in 107 minutes by having lookalikes (especially an Elvis Presley clone played by Blake Rayne) with soundalike music and scenes that look like the various time periods portrayed, but the result is too slapdash and forgettable to have any impact whatsoever. Having actors like Seth Green, Ray Liotta, Ashley Judd and Joe Pantoliano helps make it a bit more bearable, but it is about as superfluous as Get On Up and Eastwood's highly disappointing Jersey Boys (reviewed elsewhere on this site) proving that for now (adding Rock Of Ages and the Fame remake in) that the music film is dead for the moment.

Extras include three making of featurettes, Zaxby's Promotional Video, an Original Theatrical Trailer and odd Deleted Scenes.

The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Craft is fine for a digital program such as itself and has the occasional flaws that come with it, but it is as good as either DVD version of the dramatic films here on Blu-ray. The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Get and 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Identical do have some good color throughout, but also some flaws and limits form their HD shoots that hold them back, though they tie for first place for all discs on the list as expected. As for their anamorphically enhanced DVD versions, Get is passable, but Identical is so weak and soft that you would never believe the color is as good as it is on the Blu-ray.

Sound is somewhat the same story as both Blu-rays offer DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes that have their moments and feature music at their best, but have inconsistent soundfields and are not very memorable overall. All three DVDs have lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 and tie for second & last place for being good, if not great throughout.

- Nicholas Sheffo


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