Flash Movie Review: 20 Feet from Stardom

Look closely at a favorite picture or photograph; I mean really take a good look at the details. The use of shadowing, the way brushstrokes accentuate the hair or how color is used for depth; each component adds to the richness of the picture. One of my favorite pieces of art was created with tiny dots of paint. The same concept of layering applies to music. There is the use of instruments, in some cases random noises, besides sound levels; each part makes an important contribution to the ultimate musical piece. I was already aware of background singers; but after seeing this remarkable documentary, I can now refer to them as musical angels. You may not be familiar with the names of Lisa Fischer, Darlene Love, Merry Clayton or Judith Hill to name a few; but I know you have heard them sing. I loved the way this film took an iconic song and used multiple interviews to create a frame of reference on its creation. Some of the musicians interviewed were Mick Jagger, Sheryl Crow, Sting, Patti Austin, and Bruce Springsteen. What made this movie special was hearing the back up singers’ recollections of the songs they performed. If that was not enough to make you tap your feet to the beat, the old film clips that were used were incredible to watch. The beauty of this film festival winning film was how it took human emotions and thoughtfully infused them into scenes, where I would tear up at one point and then suddenly be chuckling at the next. Talk about unsung heroes; listening to the lives of these singers, I have a whole new level of appreciation for them. To see their drive, determination, passion, their souls, just to do what they love; it truly was inspirational to witness. One of the best films I have seen this year. With yesterday’s movie review, I certainly am having a musical week. After seeing this film, I dare you to try and not hum one of the songs from the movie as you leave the theater.


4 stars

About moviejoltz

From a long line of movie afficionados, one brother was the #1 renter of movies in the country with Blockbuster, I am following in the same traditions that came before me. To balance out the long hours seated in dark movie theaters, I also teach yoga and cycling. For the past 3 years, I have correctly picked the major Oscar winners... so join me as we explore the wonder of movies and search for that perfect 4 star movie.

Posted on July 18, 2013, in Documentary and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. Oh boy, I can’t wait to see this film!!!! Your reviews delight me. 🙂

  2. Another wonderful review.

  3. I know all of the backup singers in the film and can’t wait to see it! I read about this film the other day through Happy Traum’s Facebook link. He’s a folksinger. I can’t wait to see the film!

  4. I have often wondered how backup singers felt. The film seems to share their lives. I had seen the title but didn’t know what it was about.

  5. My husband, six-year-old, and I are a family of musicians. Appreciate the insights here.

  6. Your writing is more entertaining than some of the movies you review it seems. Thank you for coming by my blog and liking my post Affirmation, Gratitude and The Reticular Activating System. Gratitude Dance. I appreciate your time and attention. I am going to rent this movie, as I love to sing. :~)

    • It is very sweet of you to leave your comments it; I appreciate the kind words. With some of the films I have sat through, I almost wished I was at the dentist’s office instead. At least the dentist has the ability to numb me. I so admire those who can sing; I do hope you see this wonderful film. Thanks again for stopping by.

  7. Great review and I sight.

    This doc opened the Miami International Film Festival and I was fortunate to be there, as well as listen to Darlene Love perform live. The quality of my video does not do any justice to her performance, but you can watch it here: http://youtu.be/PlbObJEm0cI

    On a side note, the receptionist at our Church is a former professional gospel singer. We had the great pleasure of taking her to a screening when it opened nationally. She loved it, and knew the older singers very well.

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