Category Archives: Music

THE HIGH NOTE (2020): The Things I Liked…

The High Note (2020), Dakota Johnson, Focus Features
The High Note (2020), Dakota Johnson, Focus Features

The High Note is the story of Maggie, an overworked personal assistant (Dakota Johnson) who has a decision to make. A choice about what she wants her future to look like, and her vision involves her superstar singer boss, Grace Davis (Tracee Ellis Ross).

Directed by Nisha Ganatra; The High Note is for me, at best an OK film that I found more enjoyable from around the one hour point. Before then, though still watchable, Ganatra’s movie seemed to have a missing piece. It certainly didn’t help that I wasn’t overly enthused by the songs featured as the ones that made Davis successful. A truth that unfortunately made me buy into the whole ‘Grace Davis as a singing superstar’ premise that little bit less. 

Luckily, as is often the case with non biographical music films, the best songs were saved for towards the end. Songs that in my opinion fit Ellis Ross’s singing voice and or my music tastes that much more than the earlier ones.

Unexpectedly, the singing I ended up enjoyed the most in The High Note comes courtesy of Kelvin Harrison Jr.’s character, David. Assuming it’s Harrison Jr. who’s actually singing, let’s just say I’m ready to hear his voice on a full album and you just might too.

All the music aside, I enjoyed the performances in Ganatra’s film. Though it’s not perfect and it all seemed to end a tad abruptly, I don’t regret watching the story of young Maggie’s challenging journey to her ideal job; one that includes a sprinkling of romance, some funny moments and an unexpected friendship.

One last very random thing, The High Note happens to be the second movie I’ve now seen where Johnson is sporting a beautiful brown suede jacket. The first was Bad Times at the El Royale (2018). I guess it’s safe to say that I have a thing for brown fringed suede jackets. Especially the one in the latter film.

Watch it if you’re curious.

Happy Film Loving 

G

THE HIGH NOTE (2020): New Trailer From Dakota Johnson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Bill Pullman, June Diane Rapha…

The High Note (2020), Dakota Johnson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Focus Features
The High Note (2020), Dakota Johnson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Focus Features

In new music / drama The High Note which stars Dakota Johnson and Tracee Ellis Ross, Ross is superstar singer Grace Davis. Davis’s over-worked assistant (Johnson) has a choice to make. one that could change the course of both their respective careers.

 Directed by Nisha Ganatra; additional key cast includes Bill Pullman, June Diane Raphael…

I’m intrigued by the Grace / Maggie friendship and hoping for a great standout song at the end.

I’m not sure whether Ross is doing all the singing herself, but my ears were definitely expecting a deeper singing voice than what we hear in this trailer. Especially since her speaking voice has such a pleasant soothing bass.

Eddie Izzard, Zoe Chao, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Ben Lewis, Deniz Akdeniz, Rupak Ginn, Diplo, Sandra Rosko, Sonal Shah and Molly Malin also star.

The High Note Release Dates: May 29th, 2020 (US & UK / Internet)…

Happy Film Loving

G

TEEN SPIRIT (2018): The Things I Liked…

Teen Spirit (2018), Elle Fanning
Teen Spirit (2018), Elle Fanning, Interscope Films

Teen Spirit, the Max Minghella directed music / drama about a small town teenager with dreams of pop stardom is one I watched for two main reasons. The first being my curiosity about Minghella’s directing talents, especially since I’m such a fan of much of his late father‘s great works. The second reason is, I simply needed to hear Elle Fanning’s British accent. 

I’ll start by confirming that the talented young Fanning’s accent is of course good. In fact, I found it so convincing that I actually forgot to question it.

As for Minghella’s directing chops, there was a  period where the film’s great pacing slowed down in a noticeable way. The other moment I wasn’t delighted by is when the predictable exploitative love interest storyline took hold. Perhaps I’m just too avid a movie watcher to have not seen that coming but I definitely wish that particular scenario wasn’t so obvious to me, in effect making that moment of the film feel tedious.

Besides the above mentioned two instances, Teen Spirit is well acted and kept my full attention most of the time. Particularly since I very much connected with Violet’s (Fanning) hustle for a better reality. And as she made that final walk to the stage, it could not have been more intense and moving because of all it must have meant.

Watch it if you’re curious.

Happy Film Loving.

G

RESPECT (2020): New Trailer Starring Jennifer Hudson, Marlon Wayans, Forest Whitaker, Tate Donovan…

Respect (2020), Jennifer Hudson, MGM
Respect (2020), Jennifer Hudson, MGM

Starring Jennifer Hudson, Forest Whitaker and Marlon Wayans, the time has come for the teaser trailer for Respect, a biography / drama about the life story of legendary R&B singer, Aretha Franklin.

Directed by Liesl Tommy, additional key cast includes Tate Donovan, Audra McDonald, Mary J. Blige, Kimberly Scott…

I know there’s going to be heartbreak but I can’t wait to see the story behind how Franklin’s iconic hit Respect came to be.

Who else could play Franklin, really, besides Hudson? Not sure that I can think of anyone better.

Marc Maron, Tituss Burgess, Victoria Paige Watkins, Joshua Mikel, Lodric D. Collins, Jamaal Burcher and Saycon Sengbloh also star.

Respect Release Dates: December 25th, 2020 (US)…

Happy Film Loving

G

IN THE HEIGHTS (2020): New Trailer From Lin-Manuel Miranda, Dascha Polanco, Anthony Ramos…

In The Heights (2020), Anthony Ramos, Warner Bros. Pictures
In The Heights (2020), Anthony Ramos, Warner Bros. Pictures

Directed by Jon M. Chu, In The Heights is a musical about a bodega owner’s mixed feelings about closing his store to retire to the Dominican Republic.

Key cast includes Lin-Manuel Miranda, Dascha Polanco, Corey Hawkins…

With zero prior knowledge about the broadway show on which this movie is based, it looks as though, as much as the story is about indecision regarding retirement, it’s definitely also about gentrification.

I’m curious because it’s New York but it is also a musical – not my number one genre. I’ll at least try to watch.

Ariana Greenblatt, Stephanie Beatriz, Marc Anthony, Susan Pourfar, Melissa Barrera, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Olga Merediz, Leslie Grace, Ken Holmes and Julia Harnett also star.

In The Heights Release Dates: June 18th, 2021 (US & UK)…

Happy Film Loving

G

ROCKETMAN (2019): The Things I Liked…

Rocketman (2019), Taron Egerton, Paramount Pictures
Rocketman (2019), Taron Egerton, Paramount Pictures

As confirmed in my recent review of The Greatest Showmanwhich I loved, I’m a fan of very few musicals. In fact, when a musical comes along that I’m curious enough about, I prepare myself mentally to have to sit through at least 3 musical numbers that I’d much rather skip or fast forward.

The good news about director Dexter Fletcher’s Rocketman, a biography of singer, songwriter, pianist and composer Elton John is that, even though I did definitely want to fast forward through two or three musical moments, there were at least three or more that I wish lasted for double the time.

Rocketman is for me, a notable achievement for all involved. The entire cast including Taron Egerton, Jamie Bell, Richard Madden and Bryce Dallas Howard all performed very well. A great relief since I actually wasn’t sure about Egerton when I heard he’d be playing John. My doubts were very much silenced soon after the film started. Not only did Egerton perform well musically, but some of my favourite scenes are when he’s portraying the singer at his most vulnerable. I actually had no idea that John’s story was quite so heartbreaking. I’m therefore really glad knowing how much happier his life appears to be now.

‘Rocketman’, ‘I’m Still Standing’ and ‘Your Song’ are my favourite of all the music performance scenes. I particularly love the scene that shows how ‘Your Song’ actually came to be; a scene as moving as the sentiment behind the song itself.

Egerton and Madden’s on screen chemistry and Bryce Dallas Howard’s performance won’t be forgotten by me anytime soon. I also won’t be forgetting the great friendship at the heart of Rocketman. Said friendship is perhaps the most beautiful part.

Watch it because it’s good.

Happy Film Loving

G

PAVAROTTI (2019): New Trailer For Ron howard Directed Luciano Pavarotti Documentary…

Pavarotti (2019), Madman Films
Pavarotti (2019), Madman Films

Directed by Ron Howard, Pavarotti is a close look at the life and voice of the the man who brought opera to the people, legendary opera singer Luciano Pavarotti.

Pavarotti promises intimate interviews, history-making performances and never-before-seen footage…

I’m in because even though I’m not an avid listener of opera music, Luciano Pavarotti is the only opera singer I can immediately name. And considering that all I really knew about him besides his occupation and Princess Diana being a big fan is that he was Italian. I actually can’t wait to see exactly what else I can learn – and very likely love about the man.

Princess Diana, Bono, Spike Lee, Phil Donahue, Stevie Wonder, Nelson Mandela, José Carreras and Kofi Annan are among those featured in some of the archival footage.

Pavarotti Release Dates: June 7th, 2019 (US); July 15th, 2019 (UK)…

Happy Film Loving

G

HOMECOMING – A FILM BY BEYONCÉ (2019): The ThingS I Liked…

Homecoming - A Film By Beyoncé (2019), Netflix
Homecoming – A Film By Beyoncé (2019), Netflix

Homecoming – A Film By Beyoncé delivered exactly what it promised; an intimate, in-depth look at the superstar’s highly celebrated 2018 Coachella performance. 

Featuring the great songs and dances that fans know and love, and sometimes with help from very welcome special guest appearances, Homecoming is the ‘recorded for your viewing pleasure’ ‘Beychella’ experience many have been praying for. 

I personally enjoyed the performances as much as I did the behind the scenes preparation footage. Footage that revealed the emotional road from creative concept to rehearsal and final show. I loved seeing Beyoncé taking charge of her vision and equally welcomed getting to know more about her heart. To be honest, I feel as though I already knew and appreciated Beyoncé’s heart since many years ago when she said that she makes music to empower women. 

The truth of that has been re-confirmed over the years through the many great anthems. Her heart was also clear to me in the Beyonce – Year Of 4 documentary. It was in her reaction when at the 2017 Grammys Adele expressed what Beyoncé and her great work meant to her and her friends. And now, in this very documentary, through the following quote about her Coachella 2018 performance.

I feel we made something. I made my daughter proud, made my mother proud, my father proud and all of the people that are my brothers and sisters around the world. And that’s why I live. I’m so lucky and grateful that I’m able to take all these crazy ideas and, actually make it into something that heals people and may spark vision in people, that shows them to dream big. It shows them that they are limitless. It’s possible. If my country-ass can do it. They can do it.’

I love how Beyoncé’s purpose makes me feel seen. I can’t help but feel lifted when I hear her music.

Tune in for the great performances, music, and words of wisdom from several wise leaders – most prominently featured among them, activist and writer Maya Angelou.

Happy Film Loving 

G