Movie Mondays ~ Monday, May 20, 2019

Movie Mondays ~ Monday, May 20, 2019

When I started watching the latest documentary about John Lennon, I didn’t realize that it would be a tough week to squeeze in a lot of film viewing beyond that documentary. With all of the season finales and series wrap-ups this past week, it’s been hard enough just keeping up with the DVR. But I did manage to squeeze in one more film for #MovieMondays, another music-focused documentary that I had begun a few weeks back but not been able to complete. This week, I did! (woot woot)


I give you a melodic celebration of great singers and musicians on film as part of my weekly movie reviews series. As always, thanks for reading! ~ Chris K.



FILMS VIEWED WEEK OF 05/13/2019 – 05/19/2019

(click on images to enlarge on the screen!)


63. John & Yoko: Above Us Only Sky

Documentary, Music (2018)
John Lennon, Yoko Ono, Klaus Voormann, Julian Lennon, David Bailey, Elliot Mintz


My hubby recommended I check out this documentary, and I’m so glad he did. This is a beautiful and intimate look behind-the-scenes at a musical legend balancing home life and creativity and takes viewers right into the creative process. We watch the making of the album Imagine and some of the scenes in the studio of John and his producers and fellow musicians smoothing out the rough edges of songs and making magical moments which took my breath away. I especially loved hearing directly from those who were witness or even contributors to the environment, from guitarists to producers to John’s eldest song Julian sharing his own take on life with dad in the zany environment of having a recording studio in the house.


Some scenes had me hooting aloud, like when an acclaimed photographer for a shoot with John and Yoko arrives early only to find them half asleep over their breakfast at the kitchen table. After he suggests that he wait while they get ready for the photo shoot, John tells him to go ahead and start whenever, and the photog captures the always open and  candid couple being themselves, scruffy, disheveled and still waking up. It’s so refreshing to see no showy, performer bravado but just real human beings, tired and hungry, up early and having a smoke and a chat over the breakfast table. Just like everybody else.


The music is tremendous, the access is incredible, and it’s thrilling to see who shows up in the next frame — oh look, there’s George Harrison in the kitchen, getting ready to join in for a song…and the intense Phil Spector (crazy-looking, even then!) getting anxious because everyone is taking too long during the break and compelling John Lennon to frantically go around the room and corral everybody back into the recording studio for the high-pressure producer.


If you’re a Beatles fan or John Lennon fan, this is a must-see. If you enjoy documentaries, I think you’ll find the storytelling rich and fascinating. And if you love music of all kinds, then hop on for a joyful and enlightening trek through the art of making music.


Score: 87






64. Joe Cocker: Mad Dog with Soul

Documentary, Music (2017)
Joe Cocker, Pam Cocker, Jimmy Webb, Rita Coolidge, Vic Cocker, Cliff Goodwin, Billy Joel, Deric Dyer


I wasn’t always a Joe Cocker fan, not until later into my adulthood did I come to appreciate the grit and soulfulness of his voice. This was another film suggested by the hubs because we share a love and appreciation for great singers, songwriters and musicians. Cocker is truly the manic showman onstage, but what this documentary shows us through the recollections and storytelling of others who were around him throughout his career is that he was actually quiet and sweet off the stage, particularly during those early years as his career was blossoming. He could turn on the performance onstage but he was quite shy when he wasn’t entertaining.


The film was educational for me, because I didn’t know much about Joe Cocker going into the film, unlike John Lennon, who I’d learned more about over the years as a Beatles fan. I’d seen the musical performance film MAD DOGS & ENGLISHMEN, a masterpiece, but that just shows you the mayhem of the concert tour and the performances themselves. It doesn’t really reveal the man behind the performances.  While I enjoyed this 2017 documentary about Joe Cocker, the man, it lacked a critical element that my first reviewed documentary offered — a wealth of his own words. There are some excerpts from interviews with Cocker included in this documentary, but not nearly enough for me to really feel like I know who the man is in his own words. Much of it is based on what his friends say, his family members, his fellow musicians and former managers, and his widow. It’s still very interesting to learn about him and of course always a treat to watch him in action, but I didn’t feel as close to understanding him as I did with the Lennon film.


Still worth a view but of the two I viewed this week, I definitely enjoyed the first one more.


Score: 84






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