Chew's Reviews - Amy

July 3, 2015 | Opens today I would never want Tony Bennett to stop singing, but the legendary crooner surely could do a Dr. Phi...


July 3, 2015 |

Opens today

I would never want Tony Bennett to stop singing, but the legendary crooner surely could do a Dr. Phil television show as great as he sings “I Left My Heart In San Francisco." Why? Well, here's an ad lib Tony drops in the new documentary by Asif Kapadia titled AMY.

“Life teaches you how to live … if you can live long enough to live it.” Tragically, Tony said that after Amy Winehouse had succumbed to all the wealth, fame, booze and drugs that shattered her short life.

How many famous names are on an “Amy Winehouse” list(?) … Judy Garland, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis, Billie Holiday, Chet Baker, Bill Evans, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin … sadly the list goes on and on and on.

Don't let me turn you away from AMY. It's way worth more than the price of your ticket. The woman was a true music star with a striking face that Cleopatra would have surely coveted. You'll see Amy's zest for life, songwriting and music that diminish dozens of other well-known and pretty well-known entertainers.

Amy Winehouse might be the most photographed and filmed person to have so far walked the planet. Her father even brings cameramen to an island retreat to which Amy has retreated ... shaking off fans and paparazzi alike. The actual footage I saw of Mr. Winehouse reminded me some of Brian Wilson's manager (played by Paul Giamatti) in the current Beach Boys biopic, LOVE AND MERCY.

Besides Amy's legacy of recordings, there appears to be film, video and still pictures of this tragic figure that would, if laid end to end, run longer than GONE WITH THE WIN and WAR AND PEACE sans intermissions. Several actual moments in her life have been caught on moving picture film to show her wading through a huge herd of paparazzi. The flashes from all the cameras nearly create a continuous blinding light as she and her entourage make their way through the ironical dark side of fame.

Kapadia is an adroit documentarian. Not only has he put the visuals together in an inventive display, but shows commitment to solidly communicating with his audience by often posting English language subtitles of the wild sound conversation of Amy and those around her as well as the lyrics of her songs when you see her singing them … or as a graphic overlay with other actions to drive home the words she has written. The “drive” of her words sometimes “screams” what's going on in her life and how her emotions are trying to cope --- if at all.

Amy's recording session with Bennett is one to file away and look at every once in a while. For me, it's sort of like … suddenly hearing Billie Holiday start to sing on my radio.

Oh, I've been listening to Amy Winehouse sing some of her songs as I write this, by the way. Most of them are in a minor key.

I wouldn't suggest you see AMY and LOVE AND MERCY in one fell swoop like my friend who went with me to see the Winehouse documentary. But you really should take in this picture about a late, great woman who's name will always mean “Beloved.”

Copyright © 2015 by Gary Chew. All rights reserved.


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