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Bebop Spoken There

Adam O'Farrill: "Right now in my life, I don't see music as the be-all and end-all." - (DownBeat November 2020).

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12,176 (and counting) posts since we started blogging 12 years ago. 1315 of them this year alone and, so far, 18 this month (Dec. 5).

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Roland Kirk died on Dec. 5, 1977.

Tuesday, November 03, 2020

Film review: Billie - Nov. 3

Tonight Newcastle's Everyman Cinema screened an exclusive preview of James Erskine's documentary film Billie. Writer Linda Lipnack Kuehl taped some two hundred hours worth of interviews with characters who knew Billie Holiday, some knowing the legendary performer better than others. Erskine's portrait wasn't an easy watch, both emotionally and in terms of the relentless use of grainy images. 

From Holiday's early years through to her sad demise, there was the music, the relationships, drug use, drug busts and worldwide fame. The soundtrack was as good as one would expect, yet, in one respect, it wasn't so good. The music was as we know it, excellent, however, the audio quality of the taped interviews wasn't so good, so much so that acute hearing was required. 

The many hours of taped conversation contained much opinion, speculation and, probably, some factual insight. In the final reel we saw some of Milt Hinton's photographs taken at a studio recording session. What a contrast! In later years bassist Hilton would go on to win plaudits for his photography and his pin-sharp photographs were in marked contrast with the earlier footage. Billie was due to go on general release on November 13. Thanks to the looming lockdown a new date will be announced in due course.  

1 comment :

Lance said...

It's quite amazing that, 62 years after her death, the charisma that always surrounded Billie Holiday is still present. Films and books, fact and fiction, continue to appear. One fact however, is indisputable no jazz singer before or after ever quite managed to put so much feeling into a lyric.

I agree with Russell that at times it was difficult to catch all the words. This is something I've noticed before that, just as few Brits talk on the screen like their real life counterparts, nor does your average American talk like they do in Hollywood!

Particularly poignant for me was her final performance on a Granada Television show - Chelsea at Nine. I was living in London at the time it was first broadcast and it was the first time I'd heard Billie little realising I'd never hear her again on British television.

"Billie" is certainly worth catching if and when you can. I'm not sure if this is the definitive version - will there ever be one I wonder? - but it's certainly the best we've had so far.

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