This is my entry for “A” in the Blogging A to Z Challenge. Throughout April I will be watching and reviewing a documentary movie from A to Z. Some other “A” documentaries I’ve reviewed are Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, Africa: The Serengeti, American Experience: Blackout, American Experience: Into the Amazon, and American Experience: Walt Disney
Release Date: July 3, 2015
Director: Asif Kapadia
Production Company: Film4 Productions
This documentary traces the life of singer Amy Winehouse from her first steps into the music business as a teenager, to her tragic death at the age of 27. The movie is almost entirely made up of home videos made by Winehouse and her friends and colleagues. These offer occasional moments of startling intimacy, but also can be quite awkward as most people – even brilliant vocalists – generally say empty things to the video camera.
These clips to show, though, an amazing talented vocalist with a clear vision of the creative path she wants to follow. She’s not quite developed her performance skills yet, but the raw talent and drive is unmistakable. She can be sharp in her options, yet alternately very shy. Especially, in the first half of the film, lyrics of her song are projected on the screen, unfolding in parallel to her life experiences, and her interior struggles.
The second part of the film inevitable focuses on Winehouse’s struggles with depression, substance abuse, and bulimia, as she spirals out of control towards her early death. Winehouse’s addictions are reinforced by her on-again off-again relationship with boyfriend, and then husband of two years, Blake Fielder. They bring out the worst in one another. Footage from the latter half of the film is clearly from the same papperazi who constantly stalked Winehouse and made her life a living hell. As a viewer, it makes me feel complicit in the exploitation of Winehouse’s despair.
There’s one very sweet moment near the end of the film in footage of Winehouse recording a duet with Tony Bennet. She is clearly starstruck to be working with her idol while simultaneously struggling with her own sense of inadequacy. Bennet graciously – and correctly – recognizes her own amazing talent. But what others could recognize in Winehouse was clearly not enough to get her to come to terms with her mental health problems.
What Can One Learn From Watching This Documentary:
The parts with the lyrics on the screen are illustrative of the creative process of writing and composing a song and bringing it to life.
The overall theme is an indictment of the celebrity culture that devours a human being for the enjoyment of the masses, and we all play a part in that.
If You Like This You Might Also Want To …:
Listen to Back in Black, Amy Winehouse’s gift to the world.
2019 Blogging A to Z Challenge – Documentary Films, Part II
If you want to read more, check out my previous Blogging A to Z Challenges:
- 2016: A journey through my neighborhood of Jamaica Plain in Boston.
- 2017: A spontaneous photograph each day.
- 2018: Watched and reviewed documentary movies.
And dig deep into Panorama of the Mountains, by checking out my:
- Book Reviews
- Movie Reviews
- Beer Reviews
- Music Reviews and Writing
- City Stories, expository writing about my experiences in various cities
And, if you like Doctor Who, I have a whole ‘nother blog where I review Doctor Who stories across media: Epic Mandates.