Friday, August 21, 2015
Directed By: Asif Kapadia
Edited By: Chris King
Featuring: Amy Winehouse, Pete Doherty, Yasiin Bey, Mark Ronson, Tony Bennett, Tyler James, Mitch Winehouse, Salaam Remi
The story of Amy Winehouse in her own words, featuring unseen archival footage and unheard tracks.
Amy Winehouse's immediate family were initially willing to work with the film's producers and director, having heard about the success of their earlier documentary, SENNA. They granted the filmmakers access to hours of archive footage of Amy and her family, as well as giving the filmmakers' their blessing to interview Amy's family and friends. However, they - in particular, Amy's father, Mitch Winehouse - soon began to feel they were being misrepresented in the documentary, that the negative aspects of Amy's life were receiving much more attention than the positive, and that footage had been edited in order to produce an inaccurate narrative of Amy's story, especially the last three years of her life. Mitch Winehouse has said that Amy's fans should consider seeing the film for the rare, previously unseen, archive footage of his daughter, but should pay no attention to the film's general portrayal of her, which he has labeled "preposterous".
This is an engaging documentary as all the footage is taken from home video and outside sources. As even the spoken interviews done modern day are intertwined with the footage. It brings an intimacy that most of us in the audience will and would never know with her.
I believe your enjoyment (not enjoyment more appreciation) of the film will be dependent on how much of a fan you are. If you feel like she was someone talented who blew it for drugs. You probably won't change your mind. But if you are a fan. Who was sad at her passing and her last years before that. You might find yourself captivated.
Now, In all honesty I have always been a huge Amy Winehouse fan and while the ending is gong to be obvious. For a fan who obsessed over her. It was surprising to learn new insight and information. It doesn't glamorize her as more paints a portrait of her as a character the good the bad and the ugly.
She is one of those essential artists for me. One of This modern generations artists who had pure talent. Who was cut down too soon. Who most could identify with her music as it felt like her emotional truth that some could easily use as the soundtrack of their feelings. Many random songs are, though some artists just most of there songs are.
Watching the film Is almost like watching a horror film. As we are introduced to her in peaceful times. Getting to know her and watch her rise. We see the trouble forming. Then as the film continues we watch in horror as the monsters attack and as the people meant to protect her think they are dong the best for her. But really no help at all. While we watch her get attacked from different sources and become attached to someone who drains her for his own welfare. Now she isn't an innocent victim totally. She brought his on her slept to a degree, but she managed to survive and try to bring herself back and straighten out. Though from her previous encounters she picked up bad habits and was hard for her to go back to the way it used to be. Just when it seems she has found a way to manage and find Peace. One last surprise comes her way.
So it is almost lie watching the horror then like Halloween 2. we are brought into the sequel and watch some of the same Mistakes played out again only in different ways. By new ghouls so to speak. Though Still the same mold.
There are even moments where she seems possessed. In one picture even sporting a green tongue. Like Regan in THE EXORCIST. The shot lingers for maximum effect.
The monsters seem innocent but also were obviously exploitive and predatory. Her father who you can see why he is against the film after seeing the final cut. A man who abandoned his family. Yet who Amy would do anything to please. Who showed little to no interest until she became famous. Then wanted to be apart of everything as well as have fame of his own. Or at least be known. She trusted him Even though his instincts were more based on himself and only protected her to keep his interests financially open. Also her ex-husband Blake fielder who comes across as a leach and opportunist who felt she wasn't good enough when she has minor fame, but was so in love once she became internationally famous and knew she was vulnerable and still would do anything after their initial break up and wanted to be on his level once he took up drugs. So did she. When she tried to get clean so did he, but was afraid woods she still love him if she got clean and had a clear mind. This is only partly my interpretation. As the film leaves it open and up to you to make up your mind. It can only present you with the footage and interviews. It has a subject but a limited agenda.
There was something always in the music that broke it down. Had a harsh truth, but was desperate, shamefully romantic and yet dignified. As she was stating her feelings. Not beating around the bush.
Bold in her obsession for this person and how he made her feel. That is the power of her music and voice. She revealed all but was still a mystery to us. I guess in the same way of the boys fascination with the Lisbon sisters in the Sofia Coopola film. THE VIRGIN SUICIDES. Something about her hat can't be explained, but you know you can never forget her. She seemed to be self destructive to a point where she was always chasing danger. Her problem was she never did anything half-hearted. She went full in all the way. Almost determined. No matter if it destroyed her in the process. It would be admirable if it was all about the work and creative process or some kind of charity, but more for vice and seeking love from those incapable of it. As they don't know what it is, but can create the illusion of it.
Now the film is a celebration of her existence. As she comes off smart and charming but ultimately vulnerable. The film Is well crafted and while It might be an introduction to her for some. Strangely it seems like a goodbye from an artist and someone who was cut down too soon. This film allows fans to remember, but also to Say farewell to her story while allowing to keep her spirit.
I am sure some will try to say the film rests on sentimentality. I can see that, but also as it exposes her problems and her non-innocence in them. I can't say i feel the same. As at least some explanations are made for the destructive behavior.
I don't have any theories or philosophy on her. It was her life to lead. This is why it is so hard to review the film. While technically it is creative and well Crafted. The power also comes from the story and watching this person disappear that also as they are not around leaves you to wonder was it all too Much. Were they truly trying to disappear as it all got to be too much too heavy. She didn't seem tow ant to go out the way she did, but in a way she might have found her own peace. The way she Found all the milestones and trouble in her life unexpectedly.
The film isn't all grim, but by the end it might be depressing. Again I look it as a summation and an appreciation while stating what was happening while she achieved it all. It's not clinical. It actually allows you to relive her again one last time. So it's like seeing old horn videos of a late friend, but seeing them through new eyes and in different ways.
I for one am thankful for those moments.
It's hard to really review this as a portrait of someone's life.As it is never fair to review and understand an individual and their life. Wecanonly look at it as a presentation a glimpse into actions of a live lived both behind the scenes and in front of the camera where we see her at her best and at her worst.