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THE GUARDIANS AND THE GODFATHER

For Hicksflicks.com, Aug. 1, 2014

The headline refers not to Marlon Brando but James Brown, "The Godfather of Soul," y'all.

"Get On Up" is a biography of Brown, and it's what Hollywood refers to as counterprogramming, a very different kind of movie going up against the latest Marvel superhero effects-driven fantasy, "Guardians of the Galaxy."

"Guardians of the Galaxy" (PG-13). Actually, this one is a Marvel superheroes movie — plural. And it has its tongue planted firmly in its cheek in an effort to both spoof and embrace the genre. (Notice how the poster above seems to be lampooning the old "Star Wars" poster.) Based on a comic book, this one has a band of misfits led by Chris Pratt saving the universe. Co-stars (onscreen and providing voices) include Zoe Saldana, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, John C. Reilly, Benicio del Toro and Glenn Close, among others.

"Get On Up" (PG-13). Funkmaster James Brown is played by Chadwick Boseman, who found success last year playing Jackie Brown in "42." The film follows Brown from his poverty-stricken youth to his ultimate role as a highly influential musician. Co-stars include Dan Aykroyd, Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer.

"Boyhood" (R) is an experimental effort by filmmaker Richard Linklater, a narrative drama following the life of a young man from ages 5 to 18 — having been filmed over 12 years as the young man in the role, Ellar Coltrane, literally grew up before the cameras. Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke co-star.

"I Origins" (R). This science-fiction film debuted at the Sundance Film Festival last January, the story of a rigid young scientist whose work is challenged by an apparent spiritual experience.

"Happy Christmas" (R). The two art films above are playing at the Broadway Centre Cinemas in downtown Salt Lake City, but they are also at other theaters around the valley. "Happy Christmas," however, is exclusively at Salt Lake City's Tower Theatre. Writer-director Joe Swanberg stars with Melanie Lynskey as an artistic Chicago couple with a 2-year-old, but their lives are turned upside-down by the arrival of his narcissistic sister, played by Anna Kendrick.