Like the much-superior Who Do You Love, this musical dramatizes the rise of Chicago's legendary Chess Records, playing faster and looser with history than the other movie but also offering more marquee wattage. Founded by Leonard Chess (Adrien Brody) and his brother Phil (oddly omitted here), Chess transformed southern “race” music into urban blues and catapulted such artists as Muddy Waters (Jeffrey Wright) and Willie Dixon (Cedric the Entertainer) to fame, if not fortune. Later the company helped usher in rock 'n' roll with crossover stars like Chuck Berry (Mos Def). The electrifying music helps camouflage the screenplay's hyperbole. Darnell Martin directed; with Eamonn Walker, Eric Bogosian, and a smoldering Beyonce Knowles as Etta James, who the movie implies had an affair with the married Leonard Chess. R, 109 min.
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