Watch the whole thing HERE!
Posts Tagged ‘Billy Holiday’
Watch the whole thing HERE!
Asif Kapadia’s documentary Amy features never-before-seen footage and over 100 interviews with people from singer Amy Winehouse’s personal and professional life. It is a heartbreaking up-close-and-personal look at a woman who, as Tony Bennett says in the movie, didn’t live long enough to learn how to live.
Kapadia may be best known as the filmmaker behind the BAFTA winning documentary Senna but says, “It’s funny, but I am really a drama guy.”
His docs are structured like feature films. Amy, for instance, plays on a few levels, featuring several dramatic arcs. It’s a cautionary tale of the effects of international stardom. It’s a portrait of drug addiction, exploitation and a woman who looked to men for protection, and chose badly. It’s the story of Amy, a fiercely talented person who laid her heart bare in her art only to have the thing that should have been her saviour, her music, ultimately be her undoing.
When I asked Kapadia if he looked at other music docs before beginning work on Amy he said, “I don’t have references I look to. I just kind of make it up as I’m going along. For example, in the sequence with the paparazzi, I’m thinking of Raging Bull, with flashguns going off. I’m not thinking of a doc where you have someone’s life and then they pick up a guitar and sing.”
Here’s a list of other music bios—some docs, some features—that take a dramatic approach and give a complete look at the personal and creative lives of their subjects.
Anvil: The Story of Anvil: It would be easy to call Anvil a real-life Spinal Tap. The story of the heaviest heavy metal band you’ve never heard of bears a strong resemblance to the legendary fictional band, but it is so much more than that. It is a story of passion, of trying to beat the odds, of friendship, of hope against hope. It’s also quite funny and the music will peel the paint off your home theatre walls.
I’m Not There: It’s an elliptical and metaphoric retelling of Bob Dylan’s life, but none of the characters in it are called Bob Dylan. Most of them don’t look like Dylan, and the one who most looks like Dylan is a woman, played by Cate Blanchett. Yet I felt I knew more about what makes Bob Dylan tick when I left the theatre than I did about Johnny Cash following Walk the Line or Ray Charles after Ray.
Something from Nothing: The Art of Rap: A vibrant look at the art of hip hop, the first documentary from Ice-T profiles the passion of the grandmasters of rap: Afrika Bambaataa, Treach Criss, Doug E. Fresh, KRS-One, Dr. Dre and more. Worth it to hear Snoop Dogg’s (now Snoop Lion) songwriting methodology: “I need to smoke a lot of weed, and have a couple girls there because I like looking at them.”
Get on Up: James Brown was known as many things; The Godfather of Soul, Soul Brother No. 1, Mr. Dynamite and The Hardest Working Man in Show Business but he preferred to be called Mr. Brown. His rise from poverty to the top of the R&B charts is brought to life in a knock out performance from Chadwick Boseman, who plays Brown from age 16 to 60.
Near the end of “Amy,” the heartbreaking doc on the life and career of singer Amy Winehouse, Tony Bennett says, “Life teaches you how to live it if you live long enough.” Dead at age 27, Winehouse never mastered the art of living a life as director Asif Kapadia carefully recounts in this heartbreaking film.
Home movies reveal Amy Winehouse to be a precocious teenager. Charismatic and a bit of a show off, she also possessed a sultry voice that was old and wise beyond the singer’s years. On her song writing one record executive said she had the lyrical and melodic quality of a very old soul in an 18-year-old body. Using music as a remedy for her gripping depression, she wrote personal songs that laid her life bare. Critical success came quickly and along with it comparisons to Billy Holiday, Dinah Washington and Sarah Vaughan.
After the release of her first album Frank, a bad break up threw her into a spiral of alcohol abuse. Refusing to go to rehab—allegedly on the advice of her father—gave her a huge hit—“They tried to make me go to rehab but I said, ‘No, no, no.’”—and a career as a headliner but may also have been the last chance to get right before the world got hold of her.
When fame arrived–“I don’t think I could handle it [fame],” she said. “I’d go mad.”—it was a tsunami of adulation, sold out concerts, drugs, booze and destructive relationships.
“Amy” plays on a few levels. It’s a cautionary tale of the effects of international stardom. It’s a portrait of drug addiction and it’s the story of an exploited artist caught up in whirlwind of commitments and contracts. (It must be noted that Winehouse’s father Mitch strongly disagrees with the way the film portrays both him and the final years of Amy’s life.) It’s an account of a woman who looked to men for protection, and chose badly. It’s the story of Amy, a fiercely talented person who laid her heart bare in her art only to have the thing that should have been her saviour, her music, ultimately be her undoing.
Whether you were a fan or not, the documentary is a heartbreaking journey from her early days in North London, curvy and full-of-life, to stumbling, blank-faced around a stage in Belgrade, emaciated and strung out. Kapadia has assembled most of the key players to tell the story but also, very effectively, uses Winehouse’s autobiographical lyrics to fill in the blanks.
“Amy” is a lot of things, but mostly it’s a portrait of a vulnerable woman who didn’t live long enough to learn how to live.