In recent years, music documentaries have been covering the unsung heroes of music, from the mysterious artists (Rodriguez in Searching for Sugar Man and Fantastic Man about Nigeria’s William Onyeabor), to the spaces and behind-the-scenes people that create classic sounds. There’s been a recent string of music studio documentaries about the magic of some famous studios, from Dave Grohl’s Sound City to the southern mysticism of Muscle Shoals. A couple years ago, 20 Feet from Stardom even won a “Best Documentary” Oscar
Category Archives: Films
Straight Outta Compton If you would told me one of the 10 biggest R-rated movies of all time was an N.W.A. biopic, I’d never believe you. But clearly the original gangster rappers struck a chord with a generation, and also our moment in time. N.W.A.’s best known members, Beats billionaire Dr. Dre and gangster rapper extraordinaire turned family man Ice Cube, produced the film, and you can tell they had a roll shaping the narrative. Despite not having the cleanest
Nina Simone has always been a figure covered in mystique: a one-of-a-kind voice in music history that seemed so burdened by feeling she could barely keep it in. What Happened, Miss Simone? certainly lifts the veil to a large degree: a film so filled with archive footage it is impossible not to get a three-dimensional view of Miss Simone. Most music documentaries celebrate the good moments in the subject’s career, and while What Happened, Miss Simone? certainly has a couple
Brian Wilson is surely one of rock’s most interesting characters, a troubled genius that faced incredible creative opposition in his own mind, family, and band. I wrote a review of Love & Mercy, the new Brian Wilson biopic that avoids the usual music biopic storylines, for Books & Culture. You can check it out here.
Shake the Dust In the past forty years, no music form has had a bigger impact on American culture than hip hop. But what we don’t often think of, is how hip hop has impacted people across the globe. Director Adam Sjöberg turns his attention to this global aspect, specifically how it empowers youth in the third world. Hip hop since the beginning has taken four forms: rapping, turntablism (or DJing), graffiti art, and b-boying (or breakdancing). Through some incredible