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Flash Movie Review: Elvis

THE COUPLE SITTING NEXT TO ME were being rude. We were sitting inside the city’s stadium for a music concert and the opening act was performing. This couple did not pay any attention to the act as they continued with their conversation. I had no idea who the artist was; but I still wanted to listen to them perform. Even if I did not care for their style of music, I would have been considerate of the people sitting around me and not carried on a conversation. From a long time ago, I learned to pay attention to the opening acts because you never knew if they would become a success one day. My favorite example is Tina Turner. I had tickets to a concert where she was listed as the opening act for the star attraction. Her work with Ike was well known but that had happened a long time ago. None of us knew what she would be doing by herself. Well, you can see what she did based on how quickly she returned to being the headliner. As a warm-up act, she was utterly amazing. By the end of her set, I felt I had already gotten my money’s worth; she was as they say, a superstar. Because of that concert, I always pay attention to the opening acts at concerts. There was a singer songwriter I got to see early in their career as the opening act; they went on to have a #1 song on the charts.      EXPERIENCING A MUSICAL ARTIST AT THE beginning of their career journey and following them to the top of the charts is an awesome feeling. I remember seeing this one musical artist who came out on stage with her hair bound up in a scarf, dressed in old fashioned clothes, with a couple of backup singers and a small band; yet it was an incredible show due to the singer. Her personality and voice were both amazing. From that first time seeing her, I have followed her career as it ventured into movies and Broadway stages, not once being disappointed by her performances. She had something different I had never seen and with her talent, I was sure she was going to be a star. I even have photos of her in the early days of her career because in the initial stages of a musical artist’s career, I believe, they can be the most exciting times. If you do not believe me, feel free to take a look at this dramatic biography to see what it is like.      SOME MUSICAL ARTISTS CAN REACH THE top of the charts, but only a few can usher in a whole new movement. One of those artists is the subject of this musical movie. With Tom Hanks (News of the World, The Post) as Colonel Tom Parker, Austin Butler (Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood, The Dead Don’t Die) as Elvis, Olivia DeJonge (The Visit, The Sisterhood of Night) as Priscilla, Helen Thomson (A Man’s Gotta Do, Getting’ Square) as Gladys and Richard Roxburgh (Van Helsing, Moulin Rouge) as Vernon; this film was very lucky to have Austin as Elvis. If he had not been in the starring role, the first 1 ½ hours would have been more painful than they already were for me. I thought the quick cutting from scene to scene and the over-the-top dramatics took away from the performances. It almost appeared cartoonish. The last hour was the part that engaged and kept my interest. I say that because we finally got to see a more vulnerable Elvis as the scenes were given emotional depth. Up until this point I found Tom’s performance erratic; at times, his acting was excellent, other times it was off the mark. If for nothing else, it was worth it to me to see Austin’s singing performances. I felt like I was at a concert seeing someone who would be going far in their career.

2 ½ stars 

Flash Movie Review: Marry Me

THERE IS THAT SAYING, “THE THRID time is the charm,” and I knew my friend was hoping it was true, but I felt it was not going to happen. Don’t get me wrong, I really wanted her 3rd marriage to succeed; however, this current fiancé was no different than the other two I saw before. My friend is such a sweet, likeable person; but she has always been attracted to what I refer to as the “pretty boy” type of men. Each one she introduced me to was good looking and had a chip on their shoulder. My friend is a big game player who loves almost any type of game, from word ones to charades. I enjoy playing games as well and like most people enjoy winning; but if I don’t win it is no big deal to me. I am not that competitive with other people. However, her past husbands and this latest soon to be one were all intensely competitive to the point where I did not like playing with them. In my opinion, none of them played well with others; I would have thought that would have been a big clue for my friend to sit up and notice. Alas, she was very much in love with each of these men; there was very little I could say to her about it.      WITH MY FRIEND BEING A TALL woman, I understood why she preferred only dating men who were taller than her. There was a man she dated once who was maybe a couple of inches shorter than herself; I thought he was nice. She dated him for a month or two, but then found a reason why she no longer was interested in him. I thought it was due to the height, but she never admitted it to me. The other feature I noticed my friend was attracted to was fair skinned and light-colored features. With her having dark features, I could see she preferred being with someone who looked opposite of her; however, I did question her motives. How important really were these features? In the scheme of things, how do these requirements help find a good match? I tried persuading her to expand her field, that it was more important to find someone who was kind and respectful, instead of having someone who matched the image that was in her mind. For me, the things she was looking for were mostly surface things and for those of you who have known me a long time, you know I feel the surface stuff is just rental property, but the inside stuff lasts a lifetime. If you care to, you can see how things play out between the two ideas in this romantic, musical movie.      IT WAS PLANNED TO BE THE event of the year when musical artist Kat, played by Jennifer Lopez (Hustlers, Second Act), agreed to get married during her concert show and it was, but for all the wrong reasons as she discovered her fiancé had been cheating on her. How would she continue the show? With Owen Wilson (The French Dispatch, No Escape) as Charlie, musical artist Maluma as Bastian, John Bradley (Game of Thrones-TV The Brothers Grimsby) as Colin and Sarah Silverman (The Book of Henry, Battle of the Sexes) as Parker; this comedic drama’s story had a silly premise. However, what helped it was having Jennifer and Owen starring in it. They both had a likeability that came across easily. Now I will say I did not think playing their characters was much of a stretch; Jennifer was being Jennifer and Owen was just doing his usual type of character. There were some touching moments in this film, but there really were no surprises in the script. In fact, some of the scenes were out of place and odd in my opinion. The musical moments were fine, though I did think the song with the leather clad nuns was a weird concept. I give Jennifer credit for wanting to bring out a rom com this time of year; I only wish it had a better concept and script.      

2 ¼ stars 

Flash Movie Review: Mr. Saturday Night

MY FIRST APARTMENT WAS IN A neighborhood known for its nightlife. There were a multitude of bars and clubs, with most of them all on the same stretch of road. Though they each served pretty much the same alcohol and beverages, they were distinct based on the clientele. There were the clubs that attracted the young crowd, those barely legal by the state’s standards. Other bars were known to attract minorities which I always found odd. There was one place where the patrons were Hispanic for the most part. When I would go there, I would sit and try to figure out what made the place attractive for Hispanic people. It had a similar setup to other bars with colored flashing lights, a dance floor, mirrors and a live DJ. It made no sense to me; yet there was another club where the patrons were mostly Black. Again, I did not find anything distinctive about the place that would, to tell you the truth, attract any minority. Now before you think I am some big-time drinker; let me tell you, I do not drink alcoholic drinks; I never liked the taste of them. If I did not ask for a glass of water, I usually got a clear carbonated drink with no ice or straw. It is weird, but I have encountered people who would get an attitude if I did not have a drink in my hand. It was as if they thought I must be there for some nefarious reasons because I was not drinking anything.      DESPITE THESE ESTABLISHMENTS DRAWING DIFFERENT CLIENTELE, there was one place where everyone was welcome, and they showed up in droves. It was the disco. I had never seen such a place; walking into it was like entering a different universe. There were the usual-colored lights and mirrors; but they had fog machines and confetti canyons, besides live statues. I still remember this one statue who was dressed all in silver including painting their skin in the same color. They stood perfectly still on top of a large pedestal for several minutes before moving stiffly like a robot, into another position. Periodically they would burst into a dance routine, then suddenly come to a dead stop and be motionless again. The dress code was anything and everything. I had a couple of pairs of shoes that I would only wear when I visited this club. Looking back, I cannot believe I used to wear these copper-colored metallic looking pants that appeared iridescent. Funny, no one even batted an eye when I was on the dance floor. There was such an energy in the place with people moving on the massive dance floor; I used to think I wanted a job there because it was an uplifting place. It has been years since I have been to a club, but I felt like I had while watching this fun, musical documentary.      ONE MAN HAD THE IDEA TO sell the music first before coming out with the movie and it changed the whole world. Directed by John Maggio (The Perfect Weapon, American Experience-TV) this film was about Robert Stigwood, the producer for such films as Evita and Tommy, besides being the manager for the musical groups the Bee Gees and Cream. This movie focused on the creation of the hit film Saturday Night Fever with John Travolta (Grease, Pulp Fiction). If you were not a fan of disco music, I do not know if you will enjoy this picture as much as I did. Honestly, I can remember buying the musical soundtrack to this film and hearing the songs playing wherever I went; that is how popular it was. Seeing how the movie came into existence, with the little tidbits of information scattered throughout this film, I enjoyed watching this documentary. I will say it did start out a bit slow, but just hearing the music from that time and seeing the archival scenes; this was just a great blast from the past that I settled into for the night. And who knows, if you choose to see this movie, you might want to get up out of your seat and dance for a bit.     

3 stars 

Flash Movie Review: Madame X

I KNEW GOING IN THERE WOULD be a good chance my ears would be ringing by the end of the night. It was part of the event. We would be sitting with anticipation in a cavernous stadium with 20,000 people who all came for the same reason. Sometimes there would be a wall of speakers on both sides of the stage; other times, they would be hidden behind some type of fabric or paper scenery. I knew if there were added speakers suspended from the ceiling then the sound would be massive. Either way we knew we were going to hear music; we just did not know if it would be clear based on the acoustics of the arena. I loved going to concerts so much, that at one point, I was going nearly every weekend during the summer months. The places would be either enclosed or outdoor spots, though I preferred indoor so I would not have to worry about any precipitation. Those times when we could use public transportation to get to the concert, were extra memorable because the train cars were usually full of other concertgoers. There was such a festive atmosphere on the train; some people singing, others dressed up like one of the members of the band. Going to a concert was truly an event.      WHAT DRIVES ME TO ATTEND A music concert is the theatrics of it. I expect to experience more than just the artist singing their songs. I once went to a concert where the singer either sat on a stool or stood up to the microphone stand and sang a list of their music hits, with little talking between the songs. It was like listening to their album, which I could have done at home. Though they had an abundance of top ten hits, I never went to see them again because their concert was boring. After attending concerts where I witnessed a laser light drawn eagle take flight above my head and where King Kong appeared with the singer draped over the gorilla’s hand like Fay Wray, I want to be totally entertained. For that reason, I have seen a few of Madonna’s concerts. Putting her singing abilities to the side; she is nothing but one of the best at marketing her brand. Full dance numbers, costume changes and acrobats are just a few reasons her concerts tend to be spectacular. Going to one of her concerts one never knows what to expect, except for a full theatrical production. And for that reason, I was excited to see this musical documentary.      MADAME X, PLAYED BY MADONNA (EVITA, A League of Their Own), is a secret agent who travels the world fighting for freedom. Directed by Ricardo Gomes (Union Bay, Urban Sea) and newcomer SKNX, this concert filmed in Portugal was filled with a variety of singers and dancers who joined Madonna on stage. Both the video clips and stage productions were tight and well performed; however, I found the filming of the concert annoying. It was choppy due to the quick shots jumping from front to back and side to side. The music predominately consisted of Madonna’s more current music which was not as appealing to me as her earlier stuff. In her earlier days her political statements were fresh and heartfelt; at this stage they came off a bit to theatrical and seemed as if they were on a long list that she was checking off as the show went on. I never considered her a great singer, more a great performer; but in this concert tour, I never felt the sense of excitement like I experienced in her other ones. Maybe if the editing had been less frenetic and she had included a few of her older songs, I would have enjoyed watching this film. Standing on its own, I know I would have been upset if I had paid for a ticket to go see this show in person. 

2 ½ stars 

Flash Movie Review: Respect

WE WERE WAITING FOR OVER AN hour past the designated time, before she walked out on stage. No announcement, no greetings; she barely even looked out at us. I was excited to see her perform live since I had been listening to her songs for some years. When she stepped out onto the stage all of us got up out of our seats and cheered for her, immediately forgetting the long delay. She was dressed in a long, peach colored dress that sparkled under the spotlights. Musicians flooded out from both sides of the stage, quickly making their way to their spots. A grand piano sat just off center of the stage that a man walked up to and sat down. He began to fiddle with a stack of sheet music he had carried with, pulling out several sheets that he placed on top of the piano. She stood next to the microphone stand, watching him with a look on her face like a mother irritated for reminding her child it was bedtime. With everyone settled into their spot, the man at the piano struck a key with his finger while the other hand moved up and down as he snapped his fingers. The band started and the singer turned her back to us as she began to sing one of her songs. Throughout the entire concert I only saw her face a couple of times.      AFTER THAT SHOW, I VOWED I would never spend money to go see her in concert. She was the first musical artist I ever saw live in concert who did not say one word between singing her songs. I was not the only one who felt this way. During her song “Respect,” someone sitting near me yelled out, “Why don’t you give us some respect?” I remember sitting there at one point and wondering if she had forgotten how a song gets to be #1 on the music charts. It gets there based on sales and downloads. In other words, it is the fans who buy and listen to the song that determine its rank. I understand everyone has a “bad” day; I know I do. However, I do not let my issues interfere with my job. It makes no sense for me to unload my frustrations onto someone else, especially since they have not been part of the problem. Despite my feelings about the musical artist Aretha Franklin, I went to see this movie with an open mind and as usual avoided hearing and reading any reviews about it beforehand.      AT AN EARLY AGE THERE WAS something special about the little girl’s singing. At times, it would be the only thing that saves her. With Jennifer Hudson (Cats, Black Nativity) as Aretha Franklin, Forest Whitaker (Black Panther, Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey) as C.L. Franklin, Marlon Wayans (A Haunted House franchise, On the Rocks) as Ted White, Tituss Burgess (Then Came You, Are you Joking?) as James Cleveland and Audra McDonald (Hello Again, The Good Fight-TV) as Barbara; this biographical musical drama survived because of Jennifer and Forest. She was incredible in the role and I can see why Aretha hand picked her to play the role. The musical numbers were the highlight for me; as for the other scenes, they felt sanitized. It was as if every scene was done with the idea of scratching only the surface of the event to keep things clean and tidy. I felt the script, based on true events, was scrubbed of any scenes that would place Aretha in a “bad light.” It was as if scenes with strong emotions on display were being dialed down. Again, the performances were terrific as was the musical scenes; but by the end of the film, I was a bit numb about the whole thing—except the ending scene during the start of the credits.

2 ½ stars  

Flash Movie Review: Woodstock 99: Peace, Love, and Rage

I HAD NO CHOICE BUT TO SWAY from side to side. Everyone around me was doing it to match the singer’s movements up on stage. With an arm up in the air, I moved to the beat of the music. There is something about being in the middle of a crowd of people who all came together for one purpose—to enjoy their favorite musical artists. At a time where there is so much divisiveness in the world, it is such an uplifting feeling to be amongst people who all share something in common with their love of music. I firmly believe music has healing power because it goes beyond political, ethnic and religious lines; there is no hidden agenda, just a melody of notes and a beat. Isn’t there a saying about music soothes the savage beast? The thing I enjoy about musical festivals is the assortment of performing artists. If an attendee is lucky, they might hear someone who is new to them. Then there are the artists who have not had a current hit in years, but a large established following who will come see them time and time again. Because I am a coupon clipper, I feel music festivals are simply discounted concerts. I ask you, where can you pay one price to see so many different artists?      NOW THE ONLY TYPE OF MUSIC festivals I have attended have been city run ones. The city closes off several blocks of a street to put up multiple stages and porta potties. There is a huge music fest held every year in my city, but I have never gone to it because it is held in a field. The idea that if it were to rain, I would be forced to walk and stand in mud is not appealing, at all. I like having restaurants and bathrooms close by to me and if it were to rain, I could stand under a store’s awning. The average price I have paid to attend a festival has been between $15-30.00. To see around a dozen different acts for that price is a major bargain to me. I will say, I am always amazed at those who try to sneak in for free. The less money collected means the less opportunity to book decent acts to the festival. I have been to some fests where the musical performers are either so old, they cannot carry their tune that was poplar decades earlier; or, they have little experience and cannot figure out how to project their voice over the crowd. My complaints seem minor though, compared to the festival goers in this documentary.      PROMOTERS THOUGHT THEY HAD A WINNING proposal to create a massive musical festival to honor what was achieved musically decades earlier. However, they did not understand people’s musical tastes and the times can change. Directed by Garret Price (The Daily Habit-TV; Love, Antosha), this film seemed to have suffered a bit from a split personality. I was hoping to see some great sets from the musical artists of the time, and I did to some degree. The issue I had was there was this one side being shown of the promoter’s point of view and another view was about those who attended. The two sides formed a weird juxtaposition in my opinion. Despite many of the musical acts not part of my playlist, I would have enjoyed getting more back story to what they were thinking about the whole festival. There were a few interviews; but not enough that provided me with a stronger connection to the story. On the other hand, there was certainly an element of shock that I was not expecting while watching this movie. Before I even got to the end of this picture, I already knew I was meant to only experience live music on a city block.

2 ¾ stars     

Flash Movie Review: Summer of Soul

I AM SITTING IN A TINY NIGHTCLUB at a time when people could still smoke inside. The air is hazy, making the stage look like it is behind a translucent veil. Everyone in the place is squeezed around small black tables; I can barely get my hand up to take a sip from my drink. I agreed to go the club to see what magazines were referring to as an “up and coming” comedian. When he got to the stage, the crowd was still somewhat noisy with conversation. It did not last long. He quickly commanded everyone’s attention with his ability to quickly change from one dialect to another in his stories and jokes. At one point he was speaking like a Russian; he then quickly changed to a British accent before talking like an innocent 5-year-old. It was extraordinary to witness the lightning speed he jumped from one character to another, all the time zinging out joke upon joke. The crowd, including myself, was mesmerized with his performance. Sweat had formed on his forehead and was slipping down his face while his shirt darkened with the sweat being generated over his torso. The evening was a major triumph; I thought for sure this guy was going to be a major star. It was not a long wait before my thought became reality. The comedian was soon after performing at major concert halls, starring in movies and even became one of the founders of a televised charity event. I felt so lucky that I was a witness to his historic rise.     I AM NOT SURE EVERYONE FEELS this way, but I love being a witness or participant at an event that becomes historic. Having been part of a peaceful march that became a bellwether to changing times makes me feel honored and proud. Something as simple as a museum exhibit’s record-breaking run gives me joy when I can say I was there. There is an iconic singer who has sold out the world’s biggest stadiums, who starred in film and even has been the subject of a Broadway musical; that I can say I saw her when she was a warmup act. I was there at the beginning; I like the way that sounds. The other aspect about this that gives me such pleasure is the randomness of it all. One might not know they are becoming a witness to a monumental event. Think about those who were at the Berlin wall when it toppled or saw Elvis’ last concert or saw The Beatles when they first were starting out in Liverpool; it absolutely excites me to no end. I feel the same way about this documentary; how I wish I could have been there live to see history being made 100 miles away from the Woodstock festival.      ON A HOT SUMMER DAY, A PROMOTOR created and put on a festival in a park in Harlem. What was recorded at that time has never been seen before, until now. Directed by musical artist Questlove (The Roots), this movie was a treasure trove of gold star musical performances. I thought for a directorial debut Questlove did an amazing job of mixing the footage with current scenes; especially when the current artists were seeing themselves from 50 years ago. Some of the musical acts shown were Stevie Wonder, B.B. King, The 5thDimension and Nina Simone. I loved everything about this musical picture; the way it weaved in history, politics and the magic of music. The thing that I found most startling was the fact that this festival footage has never been seen before. Nowhere in history have I ever heard about this festival that was created to celebrate African American music. I hope the entire concert footage comes out on DVD or streaming; I would love to see what took place back in that park in 1969. Too bad, I no longer have any bell bottom pants to wear.            

4 stars     

Flash Movie Review: In the Heights

CONSIDERING I FIRST SAW HER WHILE sitting inside a shopping cart, it is rather amazing the memory of her is as strong today as it was decades ago. It was the only grocery store I knew as a little boy; she worked behind one of the cash registers and her name was Henrietta. With wire-rimmed eyeglasses and her shiny, light brown hair pulled tightly back into a large bun that was stuffed into a black hairnet; I always perked up when she was the checker for our checkout line. She knew my name which even for my young age, made me feel important and special. Not all the time, but often enough she would give me a lollipop or a small candy bar. Always with a smile on her face, to me she was the kindest and sweetest person I knew. When I got old enough to go to the grocery store myself, I always chose the check out aisle she was working. Though I had outgrown the desire to eat every bit of candy given or bought for me, Henrietta would give me some kind of small trinket or object. One time I received a pencil sharpener that was shaped like a rocket ship; another time I received a bottle of bubbles. She was such a strong fixture at the neighborhood grocery store; I could not think of the store without thinking about her.      NEXT TO THE GROCERY STORE WAS a laundromat and next to it was a hot dog place. Once my friends and I were old enough, we would go to the hot dog restaurant for lunch instead of the school cafeteria. The restaurant was a fast-food joint that served hot dogs and hamburgers in these red plastic baskets that were lined with a red and white checkerboard sheet of waxy paper. The cook knew we students had to be back to school on time, so he made sure to get our orders out to us quickly. Sometimes after school, I would stop at the restaurant to get a soft drink before walking a couple of blocks to the local drugstore. The store had the look of an old-fashioned apothecary with its wooded shelves going high up the sides of the walls. Light fixtures hung down by black piping and the ceiling was made of stamped tin. The pharmacists knew me and would let me take family members’ prescriptions home without a signature.  Each store in my neighborhood was a familiar and welcome place; many of the store owners knew me. Nearly all the residents in the neighborhood knew each other. The apartment I grew up in never seemed small to me because my home was my entire neighborhood, just as it was for the residents in this musical drama.      ONE WAS NEVER ALONE WHEN THEY lived in New York’s Washington Heights neighborhood, both in good times and bad. With Anthony Ramos (A Star is Born, Honest Thief) as Usnavi, Melissa Barrera (Vida-TV, Dos Veces Tu) as Vanessa, newcomer Leslie Grace, Corey Hawkins (Straight Outta Compton, Kong: Skull Island) as Benny and Jimmy Smits (Star War franchise, NYPD Blue-TV) as Kevin Rosario; this film based on Lin-Manuel Miranda’s (Hamilton, Mary Poppins Returns) Broadway musical brimmed over with singing and dancing. The music was infectious, accompanied by electrifying choreographed dancing. I thought the directing was crisp, providing a few opportunities to create powerful scenes. There were a few scenes that did not resonate with me; either they were offshoots to what I thought was the main story line or the scenario presented was predictable to me. If one is not a fan of musicals, I do not feel they will enjoy watching this movie as much as those familiar with Lin-Manuel’s style of song writing. The sense of belonging within a community, done in a vibrant and bold style, was a nice change of pace from the typical pictures that have come out this year. There was an extra scene at the end of the credits.               

3 ¼ stars    

Flash Movie Review: P!nk: All I Know So Far

THE ELEVATOR DOORS OPENED AND I immediately knew who was walking in. I was a big fan of hers, having seen her for many years on various television programs and specials. Now, I was seeing her in person. It was funny; if one did not know who she was they would have thought she was just a regular guest at the hotel. She was dressed in dark colored slacks, blouse and a cardigan sweater. Around her neck she wore several thin gold chains and her pierced ears had diamond stud earrings. Standing in the elevator with her and the two men who had accompanied her, I did not know whether I should say hello or not. I didn’t want to come off as a typical fan who asked for a photo or autograph, even though that is exactly what I wanted to do. Instead, I stood there listening to their conversation. With the elevator not stopping on any other floor, I only had less than a minute to hear what they were talking about. Surprisingly, their conversation was an easy exchange about what each were going to do for the upcoming holidays. It sounded like the 2 men were part of her staff; yet, what impressed me the most was the fact the comedienne did not put on any “airs.” She sounded genuinely interested in what each of the men were saying. When the elevator came to a stop, she turned to nod at me before exiting the elevator. I became an even bigger fan of hers right there.      WHEN IT COMES TO CELEBRITIES, I can appreciate what they do; however, I understand just because they are gifted in one area does not mean they are an expert in another. I may think some actor does incredible work; but if they choose to stand on a soapbox and spew ignorant things, then there is no reason I should spend my time and money on them. There are a couple of long-time actors that I stopped seeing their movies years ago because of their personal beliefs. One is highly prejudiced, and the other has uttered nonsense during his interviews. This would explain why you never see me reviewing any of their films on this site. I am offended when a celebrity gets on stage to except an award, then lets their true nature come out, babbling about some cause they believe, in hopes of convincing their captive audience. Just because they have money does not give them the right to tell people how to act, in my opinion. For these reasons, I found an even higher level of admiration for the musical artist in this wonderful documentary.      THE VIEWER IS GIVEN AN INSIDE view on the delicate balancing act between business, family and performing as the musical celebrity Pink begins her world tour that will lead her up to performing at London’s Wembley Stadium for the first time. Directed by Michael Gracey (The Greatest Showman, Naruto), I enjoyed how the cameras followed Pink (Alecia Moore) and her family from the stage to their off-stage lives. From what I saw, I believe Pink is no different between the two environments. Her work ethic is beyond impressive. I have only seen her perform on TV shows, never in concert and I have to say, she is 100% dedicated to putting on a great show. Now granted, the writers never delved deep into her life and I get that because she would want to be cast in a favorable light; otherwise, why would she agree to such a project. If one is not a fan of Pink’s work, then I am not sure they would care to sit through this picture. I enjoy her music and after seeing the work involved and her concert performances in this film, I would love to see her one day live in concert.

3 stars 

Flash Movie Review: The United States vs. Billie Holiday

IF I HAD LIVED FURTHER DOWN the hallway of my college residence, I would have certainly failed all my classes. At the opposite end of the hallway lived a student who played loud, heavy metal music when he had to study. He did listen to it other times; but during the week, he would play it at the same specific time which I found out was when he had to study. There would be no way I could study, let alone read a book, with such a distraction. When I studied, I had to have it quiet; the same goes for when I read a book for pleasure. I had a friend who could read while the television was on. If that was me, my ears would be picking up snippets of conversations while I was trying to read, causing a distraction for me. I admire people who are not bothered by such distractions. There were some students who liked to study together in small groups. They would congregate in the building’s lounge, fitting themselves around one of the tables or plopping themselves down in a corner filled with beanbag chairs and throw pillows. I would see them huddled together passing around bags of chips and pretzels along with a couple of thermoses filled with what I suspected to be something stronger than a soft drink or coffee. There would be no way I could be part of their study group because I would be constantly distracted.      THE WEIRD THING IS WHEN I AM cooking or baking, I like to have some sound playing in the background. Either music or anything on the TV, I like it playing in the background because for some reason it keeps me calm. I always wondered if it is a creative thing, where people who are “making” something like to have a multiple of their senses getting stimulated at the same time. I cannot remember the artist’s name, but there was one I read about who loved to have music playing anytime they were painting. On the other hand, only based on the movie I saw, I believe Vincent Van Gogh preferred silence while painting so he could feel everything around him. It comes down to different creative people experience distractions in different ways. I cannot imagine what it would be like for, let us say, a sculptor trying to create something while having a distraction nearby. There used to be an artist who lived on my block who would always wear noise cancelling headphones whenever they were outside working on a project. With me speaking of distractions, after seeing this Oscar nominated and film festival winning movie, I cannot believe what the main character went through while selling out concert halls.      THE PERFORMANCE OF ONE SONG WAS all that it took for the United States government to hopefully find a way to stop the singer Billie Holiday, played by Andra Day (Marshall), from ever singing again. With Leslie Jordan (The Help, Will & Grace-TV) as Reginald Lord Devine, Miss Lawrence (Star-TV, Empire-TV) as Miss Freddy, Natasha Lyonne (Honey Boy, Orange is the New Black-TV) as Tallulah Bankhead and Trevante Rhodes (Moonlight, The Predator) as Jimmy Fletcher; this dramatic music biography must be watched simply because of Andra’s performance. Known more as a singer, this starring role of hers made me think I was truly watching Billie Holiday. Overall, I enjoyed watching this film, though it needed a tightening up on the direction and another rewrite of the script. The reason I say this is because there were such a variety of characters that at times the intensity in Andra’s performance waned. Other than that, I cannot get over the life Billie was living through while trying to simply sing for a living. A deservedly Oscar nominated performance that needs to be seen to be believed.                    

3 ¼ stars  

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