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.
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
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.
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
WE WERE PART OF AN ELITE group, though none of us would ever admit to it. I do not know any other way to say this, but we were easy targets. We were always the last ones to be picked for a team in PE class. Because I was overweight, the athletic boys assumed I could not do any of the sports that we played in class. They were half right in some cases; but it was okay, I had no desire to be part of any team. I saw what happened to those who did not meet the jocks’ standards. One of the students in our elite group was picked on in brutal ways. In the locker room it was rare a week went by without him getting his head slammed into a locker door or being tripped in the shower room. One time a group of bullies waited for him to completely disrobe at his locker before grabbing him to hang out the window. To this day, I can still hear him screaming as they dragged him to the open window. I was frozen with fear because I had my own hell, I was going through, with some of these same bullies. Some of the less harsh treatments I endured were being shoved into lockers, punched, slapped with textbooks and stabbed. WHEN I WENT TO SCHOOL OUT of state, I decided to reinvent myself because I never wanted to go through what I did previously in school. I got a handle on my eating habits and started exercising properly, none of the competitive crap that was offered in my past schooling. It took a long time, but I started noticing the difference in my weight loss. By the time I finished up my studies and returned home, I looked quite different. Friends and relatives would get surprised when they saw the “new” me. One Saturday night, I was at a party and bumped into a guy who was part of our elite group from school. Back then he used to get bullied because he was extremely skinny (go figure) with these super long legs and short torso. Because he had not matured the same time as most of the boys in class, he was picked on and called names. Looking at him now as an adult, I was amazed at his transformation. From that gangly, prepubescent looking boy, who always carried a baseball mitt in his backpack; I was looking at a tall handsome man with a warm smile. We were both survivors who got to the other side of what life was meant to be. Having that survivor mentality, I immediately felt a connection to him, just like I did when I saw the musical artist of this documentary perform live in concert. ON THE OUTSIDE NO ONE COULD imagine what life was like for Anna Mae Bullock after she got off the stage. From this musical biography, this Grammy award winner will show you how to live a different life. Written and directed by Daniel Lindsay (Undefeated, LA 92) and T.J. Martin (Undefeated, LA 92), this film featured Angela Bassett (Black Panther, Contact), Oprah (The Color Purple, A Wrinkle in Time) and Kurt Loder (Get Him to the Greek, Airheads) talking about their feelings about Tina Turner. Right from the start, I was glued to this film. Granted I am probably biased, having seen her perform in concert 3 times. Out of all the musical artists’ concerts I have attended, she was the hardest working performer I had ever seen. From watching this thoroughly entertaining film, I can see where she gets her strength. It was obvious to me that this movie was made as a love letter to her fans and a goodbye; there were intimate scenes as well as tough ones. The concert footage was enough for me to want to see this film again. As far as I am concerned, she needs to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a single artist. It would be the perfect topping to an amazing life.
I KNEW HER WHEN SHE HAD dreams of being an artist. She delved into the art world with inks, paper, feathers and stamps; eager to create a line of cards filled with characters and creatures she would copyright one day. I was the recipient for several of her cards; they usually had to be delivered with 2 stamps on the envelopes. If someone were to ask me what her style of art was like, I think I would have a hard time explaining it. There were some figures that had a Victorian flair to them, but then there were others that were almost animal like. I do not mean this in a disrespectful way but for my tastes, I would say her cards were frilly. The addition of buttons or crystals or fringe for me, gave it a frilly look. I will say she was passionate about her craft, going to various workshops and conventions to practice and hone her skills. Besides getting texts with photos of her latest works, we would talk on the phone and she would tell me about her latest creations. She even looked the part, if there is such a type. With hair dyed in various vibrant colors based on the season, she wore funky jewelry; some even made by her. In other words, one could consider her a walking billboard for her products. WHEN SHE INTRODUCED ME TO THE man she was going to marry, it never occurred to me that she would alter her game plan for her art. However, after they were married for a few months I noticed the texts became fewer and farther between, the phone calls were not as consistent as they once were; I was not hearing about her latest creations. When we talked, she still would mention something about a new stamp she bought or some fun card stock; however, I now would infrequently hear about the finished product made from these items. It was not like her husband discouraged her; it was her choice as far as I could tell. I did not hear anything negative about his feelings towards her creative side. It just seemed as if her passion for art was transferred to her passion for her new husband. It had been a long time since she had been married. And that was okay with me if that is how she truly felt; I only wanted her to be happy. I had known other people who got into a relationship and the things they were passionate about had to be curtailed because their spouse was not supportive or did not understand the importance it played in the person’s life. Having a dream and making it a reality are two different things; see how it works in this film festival nominated movie. SYLVIA PARKER, PLAYED BY TESSA THOMPSON (Creed franchise, Men in Black: International), was obsessed with television. Her dream was to become a TV producer. While helping at her father’s record store, Sylvia met someone who also had a dream. With Nnamdi Asomugha (Crown Heights, When the Streetlights Go On-TV) as Halloway, Eva Longoria (Dog Days, Overboard) as Carmen, Aja Naomi King (The Birth of a Nation, The Upside) as Mona and Jemima Kirke (The Little Hours, Ava’s Possessions) as The Countess; this drama was as smooth as fine satin. Set during the 1950s in Harlem, I thought the sets and costumes were spot on and I thoroughly enjoyed the musical score. Tessa and Nnamdi had a palatable chemistry that grew along with the story. The script had a game plan like other romantic films I have seen before; though, I thought the ending lost a bit of steam here. I mean this as a compliment; this was a good old-fashioned romantic drama with a good douse of jazz music thrown in.
I WOULD ONLY NEED TO HEAR the first few notes of the song before images of me with my relatives would appear and I would be transported out of state. I would see myself by a lighthouse, overlooking a bay filled with sailboats. On July 4th, my relatives and I sat up on top of a hill so we could see over the surrounding houses and watch the fireworks that were exploding over the ocean in flashes of red, white and blue. Walking up a narrow staircase to see newborn babies sleeping in their handmade cradles is another fond memory that appears anytime I hear the song, “Massachusetts.” When I hear the song, “Nights on Broadway,” I immediately see me at a little food shop, quickly eating lunch, before I needed to get to my 2ndof 5 Broadway plays/musicals I had tickets for over the weekend. It was my first time there and I wanted to see as many things as I possibly could in the shortest amount of time. Seeing the theater marquees all lit up at night looked so much better in person than when I would see it on television. I would walk up and down the street, among the never-ending throngs of people, after leaving the theater because I wanted to soak up every experience possible, even if it included being jostled by the strangers walking to and fro. THERE ARE SOME SONGS THAT SPEAK to us on a visceral level. We feel them inside of ourselves. There are some songs that I can listen to over and over and each time they will bring tears to my eyes; not necessarily the words as much as the sounds. What comes to my mind is one special song from a Broadway show that I have heard sung by multiple artists throughout the past decades. As soon as I hear the opening notes I start to tear up; it is immediate, before my mind even brings up whatever memory I have stored for it. Other songs tell us what we are feeling inside. “How Deep is Your Love” is one of those songs that hold a special place for me because of where I was at in a relationship during a particular time in my life. I can hear that song and visualize everything that was going on at the time, even down to what clothes I was wearing. Songs and music have such an important place in society and when a musical artist/group comes along to provide us with a multitude of songs that provide us with the markers for our life’s milestones, it truly is a gift. THREE BROTHERS WITH PERFECT HARMONY HAD to navigate the issues that pop up among siblings while trying to get their feelings down on paper, that people would want to listen to. This film festival winner was literally a “blast from the past” for me. If one is not a fan of the Bee Gees’ music, they may not be as enamored as I was watching this documentary. Directed by Frank Marshall (Eight Below, Arachnophobia), I enjoyed the straightforward and orderly way he directed this picture. The use of archival footage was wonderful to watch, along with the variety of interviews included from such musical icons as Barry Gibb, Eric Clapton and Lulu. One of the surprise treats with watching this film was to see how the brothers created a song. I was fascinated with the recording footage as well as the corresponding concert footage. Whether one is a fan of the Bee Gees or not, there is no denying the Bee Gees were an important part of the musical landscape. This was a special movie watching experience because I was able to reminisce, sing along, learn something new and dance all within a couple of hours.
3 ½ stars
NOT AS EXTREME AS DOCTOR JEKYLL and Mr. Hyde, but I was seeing a completely different side to my friend when I paid a visit to him at his office. He was a sweet and kind individual whose personality leaned more towards the passive side. Easy going, who let others make all the decisions; he was most uncomfortable when confronted with conflict. I knew he had a managerial position at his company, but I had no idea how high he was in the pecking order. When I arrived at his company a security guard had to check me in and call my friend’s office. A secretary was dispatched to escort me to his office. Who was this person I was visiting? Arriving at his office or to describe it better, his suite of offices; I was stunned to see him in such a setting. I would have never guessed he would be sitting in what appeared to be an authoritative position. While there he had to take a couple of phone calls and receive several visits from various employees under his jurisdiction. His staff was in the hundreds I found out; this was something I simply could not comprehend. He could not voice an opinion on what restaurant we should go to for a dinner, but he was sitting here acting powerful and decisive. It was such a dichotomy, like I was seeing two different people. I HAVE HAD THE GOOD FORTUNE to see Tina Turner perform not once, but three times in concert. Her concerts rank in the top three of my favorite performances. One of the reasons why is because she sang live which is quite important to me. Going to see a musical artist lip synch their songs in concert is a waste of money for me; I could stay home and listen to their albums. Another reason I loved her concerts is because she was exciting to watch on stage. The only way I can describe it is by saying she was like a predator stalking the stage. She would cover the entire stage, whether alone or with her backup dancers. Clocking in well over 2 hours, the only time she was off stage was to change her outfit; but then she was right back at center stage, always in high heeled shoes. You knew she was pouring everything she had into her performances because I am not exaggerating when I tell you at the end of the show, she was drenched with sweat. From where I was seated, I could see it dripping off her face; she was a musical beast. How in the world did she cover up the life she was leading when she was not on stage? This dramatic musical biography will explain it. ON STAGE SHE WAS TINA TURNER, but offstage she was Anna Mae Bullock and she was having a rough time. With Angela Bassett (Black Panther, Strange Days) as Tina Turner, Laurence Fishburne (The Matrix franchise, Contagion) as Ike Turner, RaeVen Kelly (A Time to Kill, Preacher’s Kid) as young Anna Mae, Jennifer Lewis (The Preacher’s Wife, Think Like a Man franchise) as Zelma Bullock and Phyllis Yvonne Stickney (Malcolm X, New Jack City) as Alline Bullock; I can emphatically say Angela was Tina in this film festival winner. She was incredible with her acting skills in portraying Tina. Not to be outdone, I must hand it to Laurence because he was equally amazing in the way he portrayed Ike. Just like Tina, both actors commanded the viewers attention as they delivered the script in their own special way. The story is unbelievable; however, the script could have been tweaked a bit to let the cast dig deeper into their characters. If you are a fan of their music, then you will especially enjoy watching the musical scenes of classic songs. What a life Tina has led and with the concerts I have seen of hers, I can add the watching of this film as a special treat.
3 ½ stars
IF IT WASN’T FOR MY ECLECTIC taste in music, I would surely be deaf now. In my younger days I could be found at some type of concert almost every week. From small nightclub venues to large indoor stadiums, I was spending a good portion of my paycheck on music concerts. I will say, I have been fortunate to have seen some classic and memorable musical performances. For example, I saw Freddie Mercury and Queen a couple of times; Paul McCartney, Led Zeppelin, Jane Oliver, Black Sabbath, Bette Midler and Tina Turner. Many of the concerts were held in an older 18,000 seat stadium, with the last rows up close to the rafters. I remember the buzz of energy sparking through the massive crowd of people who were piling into their seats. There would be these massive speakers stacked up on both ends of the stage, along with speakers that hung down from the roof. With some bands, the music was so loud coming through the speakers that the sound would reverberate in my chest. My ears would be ringing, but I would not notice it until the concert ended. There was one concert that left me with a ringing in my ears until the middle of the following day. Back then I did not give much thought to my ears and in fact, took the ringing as a sign that it was a good concert. How dumb of me. WHAT MADE ME REALIZE THE DAMAGE I was doing to my ears was my first flight to Mexico. I went with a friend and the night before I came down with a head cold. Since it was just some congestion without a cough or fever, I did not give it much thought. However, when the plane was descending, my ears felt like a knife was plunging into my eardrums because of my clogged sinuses; I was in excruciating pain. By the time we landed, I could not hear a thing. My friend had to take the lead on everything for the next two days. If I hadn’t been so freaked out by it, I would have had a better time and just relaxed with the quiet. The only way I could communicate was either by writing a note or doing a solo form of charades. The day I got my hearing back started out with me hearing a crackling noise every time I swallowed. It was similar sounding to the turning of a radio dial, filled with static and buzzing. As soon as I was able to once again hear the spoken word, I vowed never to fly with a cold again and always put ear plugs in my ears before a concert. It was tough watching the main character in this musical drama at first because it brought back such memories for me. PANIC BEGAN TO SET IN AS Ruben, played by Riz Ahmed (Four Lions, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story), started to lose his hearing. To make matters worse, his profession was accelerating the pace. With Olivia Cooke (Ready Player One, Thoroughbreds) as Lou, Paul Raci (Smoothtalker, Todd McFarlane’s Spawn) as Joe, Lauren Ridloff (If You could Hear my Own Tune, The Walking Dead-TV) as Diane and Mathieu Amalric (Venus in Fur, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) as Richard Berger; this film festival winner had a simple but emotionally filled script. The way scenes played into each other with the incredible use of sound to connect them was impressive. Riz was outstanding with his character; the internal and external battles he experienced were equally intense which added to the connection the story was making with the viewer. I hope he gets a nomination this awards season. This was a wonderful film that was filled with depth and poignancy. I think it also provides an accurate picture of those with a hearing loss.
3 ½ stars
IT FELT GOOD TO BE NEEDED and I felt the same about them. We had met at a mutual friend’s birthday party; by the time I had to leave, we agreed to meet for dinner later in the week. Over that first meal we discovered things we had in common, including their best friend was married to a cousin of mine. It was things like this that sparked our attraction for each other. Now here is a little secret; the entire time we were together, I felt as if I was dating out of my league. In the very beginning of our relationship I would question, or 2ndguess myself because I could not believe how well things were going. Listening to them talk about their circle of friends/business contacts used to make me feel uncomfortable because they sounded so sophisticated or important. It eventually passed because we were settling into a comfortable, loving place. Though, I never pushed to be introduced to their friends; I thought in good time they would get comfortable to bring me around them. I never questioned it because I was taking a slow pace in introducing them to my friends and family. Looking back now, I should have questioned it. THERE WAS NO WARNING, NOT EVEN an indication, when they told me our relationship was no longer working for them. The only way I could describe how I was feeling was shellshocked. Seriously, I felt as if everything was going along wonderfully; we never even had a disagreement about anything. I tried to get more input about what was not working, but all I was getting was the same “not working” excuse. I must tell you breaking up is harder to deal with when you do not get an explanation or feedback you can process and possibly see things through the other person’s eyes. I mean, if there is something I did that caused this unfortunate turn of the relationship, I certainly would like to know about it; so, I could look and maybe grow from it. All I had to do it turned out was wait one week and I got my answer. The mutual friend we had called and told me that my ex was already dating someone else. Wow, that did not take long. I guess my feeling needed was correct; however, it was for the wrong reasons. They were using me until they found someone who better fit their needs and wants, I guess. I know some people who get into a relationship, know right from the start where they stand with the other person. I do not know if that would make me feel any better about the relationship; it seems like that could be the start of a love/hate relationship. In this musical drama, you can see what I am talking about. BOTH THE RECORD PRODUCER AND MANAGER knew what type of record they wanted to make. What they did not know was the singer had her own ideas. With Viola Davis (Fences, Widows) as Ma Rainey, Chadwick Boseman (Black Panther, 21 Bridges) as Levee, Colman Domingo (Lincoln, Selma) as Cutler, Glynn Turman (Super 8, Sahara) as Toledo and Jeremy Shamos (The Big Sick, Magic in the Moonlight); this film festival winner hit the right chord with Viola and Chadwick playing off of each other. They both provided powerful performances that carried this story all the way to the end. I had a hard time, at first, getting into this story. There were some flat scenes that did nothing for me. I could see where they might have been more intense on the stage; however, they did not translate well to the big screen. On the other hand, there were some intense attention-grabbing scenes that made me want to watch more. I could see Chadwick and Viola getting nominations during this year’s awards season and if that was the reason the movie studio used them to make money off this film, I am sure the actors were quite aware of it.