Saturday, February 20, 2016

Oscar Nominated Docs ~ What Happened, Miss Simone and Amy

I'm a real rebel with a cause.
~Nina Simone

Well, it's that time of year again. When most of the "serious" movies come out and I try to see almost everything I possibly can!

I get a certain number of screeners, because I'm still in the actors union, but when it comes to Documentaries, I'm on my own. (No acting nominations to vote on, obviously!)

I still have a long way to go, but of the documentaries, I decided to watch the two music docs first. Both were fascinating stories about brilliantly talented jazz singers who ... well, lets just say things were really rough and/or did not end well for the central figures.

First, I streamed What Happened, Miss Simone? on Netflix, about the jazz singer and pianist. I've had some of her music for probably 20 years and though I had appreciated her voice I had no idea that she had trained as a concert pianist or of how tumultuous and difficult her personal life was, though the emotional way she sang gave you a sense of that.

Here's the trailer ...

In the documentary they  play a bit of this clip from the Playboy Club, singing Porgy ...

It was a very interesting and well made documentary, with great old footage and I felt like it was a pretty all encompassing look at her life, and its different phases, including the civil rights movement. 

Here is another live concert performance, in Rome, 1968. 

I only knew classical Music, 
which to me was the only true music. 
The only way I could survive at the bar
was to mix the classical music with popular songs,
and that meant I had to sing. 
What happened was that I discovered 
I had a voice plus the talent 
to mix classical music together with more popular songs,
which at the time I detested.
~ Nina Simone

My favorite (and super sexy) song, that I don't think was in the documentary is I Want a Little Sugar in My Bowl.  LOVE this recording.

And this awesome recording of Feeling Good ... 

You've got to learn to leave the table
When Love's no longer being served.
~Nina Simone

Then there's Amy, about jazz singer Amy Winehouse, which I just streamed on Amazon Prime. Definitely frustrating to see the people around her, some of which made things even more difficult for her, and to see how she never got the help she needed. She was so young and I'm sure if she'd just played jazz clubs and the whole fame thing hadn't blown up, she'd still be here. Very sad. 

There are definitely differences between the lives of Simone and Winehouse, their stories, and the demons they had to battle, but there are some similarities, as well. They both had a lot of people living off of their talent and working them to exhaustion without regard to their mental and physical health!

We've lost one of the jazz greats ...
~Tony Bennett on Amy Winehouse

Here is the trailer for Amy.

This is an interview from 2004 with Amy, that they used part of for the documentary. She's darling and it's nice to see her early on, healthy, with her cute personality at 20 years old. My favorite moment is at 3:08. At 4 minutes she performs. 

Here's a performance, not in the Documentary ... 

This is an audio recording (with slideshow) of Amy Winehouse that I'd never heard, doing a jazz version of the Beatles "All My Lovin'."

And the Recording with Tony Bennett ...

Tony Bennett said of Amy Winehouse, 
"She had the whole facility of an Ella Fitzgerald, 
of a Billie Holiday, who are the two best singers of jazz in the world. 
Since Elvis Presley into the Beatles, the Rolling Stones 
and the whole so called "new era" 
she was the best singer of any young singer that I've ever heard. 
She sang in the true tradition of being a great artist. 
She was a great artist ... "

So, both docs were both worth watching, especially if you like the artists, though I thought the tail end of Amy was a little heavy handed with the little review of footage of her, but it didn't ruin it or anything.

I'll be posting some more reviews, shortly! I've seen 6 out of the 8 best picture nominees, all the best actor nominees, but I'm behind on the women! I've only seen 2 best actress, but 3 best supporting. It's going to be a busy week! Friday I will go see the documentary shorts. I've already seen the live action and animated shorts. Love supporting the smaller short films! Anyway ... off to stream Bridge of Spies!

Have a great evening!
Blessings and light!


Rick Forrestal said...

What a treat!
All these film clips, to watch, to listen.
And two of my favorite musical artists
of all time. Wow.
Nina and Amy.
I found myself smiling throughout every minute
of your shared films.
I was amazed at the Playboy Penthouse scene with
the very young Hugh Hefner . . . and that great
duet of Tony Bennett and Amy Winehouse.
(By the way, Bridge of Spies was one of my favorites
this past year.)
Thank you so much for all this great music.
Great job.

donna baker said... hardly seen anything yet, but I do have Simone's I Love You Porgy on my playlist. I've always loved that song since seeing the play when I was young.

Candy said...

Lucinda, I'm thrilled with this post - not just because it's great stuff, but also because you've saved me from going crazy. Two years ago, I had 2 students from Brazil in my class. They were visiting the United States and wanted to brush up on their English. One of the girls was into music. She had never heard of Astrud Gilberto, one of my favorites. I had never heard of Nina Simone, one of her favorites. I learn so much from my students! Last week, I was trying to think of Nina Simone's name. Do you think I could? Nope. Do you think I could find the notes I took on her? Nope. Then - ta-da! Miss Lucinda, you saved the day! Happy Sunday!

Amanda Summer said...

Beautiful pairing of two singing greats - love the Nina Simone footage at the Playboy Club.

I think I've seen 3 of the Oscar nominated films this year which is a lot for me!

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