2019 Film Reviews – 47: Hitsville: The Making Of Motown [dir. Benjamin Turner & Gabe Turner; 2019]

You don’t really need an excuse to spend two hours in the company of some of the most irresistible music ever recorded. But if you insist on having a documentary backdrop to the likes of Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye and Smokey Robinson doing their thing, then Hitsville fulfils the role with great charm. Taking its inspiration from Motown founder Berry Gordy’s policy of approaching the … Continue reading 2019 Film Reviews – 47: Hitsville: The Making Of Motown [dir. Benjamin Turner & Gabe Turner; 2019]

Music review: Madame X by Madonna (2019)

There are several possible points of entry into the territory of Madonna’s Madame X. You could try the portentous, genre-shifting portal that is God Control. You could decide to delve in via the hip-swaying nostalgia of Medellin. Or you could go for the smoke-filled, strobe-lit, 90s club gateway signposted by I Don’t Search, I Find. What makes the album interesting – and arguably the most … Continue reading Music review: Madame X by Madonna (2019)

2019 Film Reviews – 35: Rocketman [dir. Dexter Fletcher; 2019]

It isn’t anywhere near as gritty as its marketeers would have us believe, but Rocketman certainly offers a wider range of tones and moods than the sanitised Bohemian Rhapsody. Examining Elton John’s growing fame and eventual decision to take his many problems to a rehab clinic, the film adopts what is at times surreal imagery, an energetic pace and several jukebox-musical sequences (yes, with characters … Continue reading 2019 Film Reviews – 35: Rocketman [dir. Dexter Fletcher; 2019]

2019 Film Reviews – 32: Amazing Grace [dir. Alan Elliott & Sydney Pollack; 2018]

Aside from the impassioned music and Aretha Franklin’s unquestionably powerful vocal skills (although personally, I can take R&B warbling only in small doses) what’s most remarkable about this footage of the recording of the much-lauded, 1972 Amazing Grace album is the casualness of the whole set up. Franklin herself wanders on with little fanfare. The audience move around the auditorium, dancing, clapping and singing as … Continue reading 2019 Film Reviews – 32: Amazing Grace [dir. Alan Elliott & Sydney Pollack; 2018]

2019 Film Reviews – 7: Strike A Pose [dir. Ester Gould & Reijer Zwaan; 2016]

The very premise of this documentary has ‘self-indulgent’ written all over it: find the dancers from Madonna’s game-changing 1990 Blond Ambition tour and see what they’ve been up to for the last twenty-five years. To put it bluntly: who cares? And I write this as someone with what could be called a more-than-passing interest in Ms Ciccone’s career. That said, there is no such thing … Continue reading 2019 Film Reviews – 7: Strike A Pose [dir. Ester Gould & Reijer Zwaan; 2016]

Film Review: George Harrison – Living In The Material World [dir. Martin Scorsese; 2011]

Although I was brought up in a Beatle-loving household, George Harrison was spoken about only as one of “the other two” members of the band. Scorsese’s documentary of this complex, intriguing cultural figure filled in some of the gaps in my knowledge with considerable finesse. Using new interviews with key figures in Harrison’s life (including Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and his widow, Olivia) as well as expertly … Continue reading Film Review: George Harrison – Living In The Material World [dir. Martin Scorsese; 2011]

Asteroids and Icing – Madonna’s Sticky & Sweet Tour [part 2] – London O2 Arena 4th July 2009

The last time Madonna performed in London – less than a year ago – she kept fans waiting for an hour past the published start time before opening up her split-screen, Dahl-on-acid candy box. For various reasons, that gig generally wasn’t considered her finest hour. Tonight, we’re expected to be even more patient: 80 minutes pass before the lights finally go down and the 2009 … Continue reading Asteroids and Icing – Madonna’s Sticky & Sweet Tour [part 2] – London O2 Arena 4th July 2009