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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

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