As a music fan, this year was pretty cool with all the different documentaries on some of my favorite musicians. Here are my thoughts on each of the films or mini-series:
Backstreet Boys: Show ‘Em What You’re Made Of I was born in the late 80s and my room and school locker was full of posters and magazine photos of the Backstreet Boys (I was also a fan of N’SYNC too, I don’t play favorites). So naturally, when this documentary came out, I had to watch it. When Nick and Brian start a yelling match, I was heartbroken and I wanted to hug them all when they poured their hearts out. I am impressed that I still remember all the lyrics. It was so enjoyable and made me regret that I did not get tickets for their 2012 world tour. I highly recommend it especially for millennial ladies.
Cobain: Montage of Heck (HBO)
He was the voice of a generation but to me, Kurt Cobain wrote, sang and played music that can speak to any teenager who was full of angst and uncertainty about their surroundings and future. True emotion can be heard in his singing and it was fascinating to see how Kurt’s mind worked through the animations based on interviews and diary entries. No one will fully understand what another is thinking but this documentary gave us a peek at his mind.
In this two part mini-series, we learn about the beginnings of Frank Sinatra’s career and what were the inspirations behind his greatest hits. Interviews with his closest colleagues, children and relatives also brought more light into one of the most famous voices ever. I had no idea about Sinatra’s philanthropy especially promoting racial equality. He may have had a scandalous life with affairs and rumors working with the mafia but this documentary proves that there are so many layers in one person.
At Cannes, it was all the buzz, a documentary on jazz singer Amy Winehouse who made headlines with her drug and alcohol abuse just as much as she did with her unique voice and lyrics. She was honest and clearly loved music. The trailer for the documentary left me with goosebumps and tears every time I watched it, the documentary itself was very powerful though I must admit, not as much as the trailer was.
What Happened, Miss Simone? (Netflix)
“How can you be an artist and not reflect the times?” ~ Nina Simone
Passionate, truthful, and daring, the singer through archived interviews and from close friends and family, we learned about a talented woman who never became what she always wanted to be: a classical pianist. This documentary showed the challenges of bipolarism which was not diagnosed until her later years, losing her fortune and family but proving that she was never outdated. This documentary was also personal for me since my mother also is a classical pianist.
If I had to choose my favorite it would be Sinatra: All or Nothing, it was intimate, sweet, funny and touching and gave many new insights to a legend. At being four hours total, I still couldn’t get enough.