News & Reviews

MAKING A SONG & DANCE ABOUT BLACK HERITAGE FILMS

Harry Belafonte and Dorothy Dandridge getting acquainted in the sultry musical classic, Carmen Jones (1954). Photo: 20th Century Fox

R&V is on the good foot as a supported partner in the BFI’s Musicals season, celebrating musical films across the UK. https://www.bfi.org.uk/musicals

Our programme, Bright & Beautiful: A Black Musical Heritage Review will showcase the films Carmen Jones (1954), Dreamgirls (2006) and Cabin in the Sky (1943), and profiling celebrities of yesteryear: Lena Horne, Ethel Waters, Duke Ellington, Dorothy Dandridge, and Harry Belafonte, plus newbies Beyonce and Jennifer Hudson.

Cabin in The Sky: Faith & Film Night + Q&A Discussion – 14 December 2019 in S. London

A jumpin’ comedy musical about love, life, temptation, heaven, hell and all that jazz

Details and booking link: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/cabin-in-the-sky-faith-film-movie-night-tickets-84290143087


SPOTLIGHT ON A HITS MACHINE

Smokey Robinson and Berry Gordy – hit-makers extraordinaire Photo: Altitude

Hitsville: The Making of Motown Dir. Benjamin Turner & Gabe Turner, Documentary

The creation of Tamla Motown Records by the visionary music guru Berry Gordy is one of the most epic success stories of the twentieth century. It has been told many times and in many splendid ways: on film, stage (on Broadway, and for the past three years in London’s West End), and on TV…

This new doc purports to chronicle the ‘astronomical success and enduring cultural impact’ of the label, and was made to celebrate the brand’s 60th anniversary in 2019. It claims to have the full blessing of Gordy, and as far as documentary and objectivity go, this could mean it’s a vanity project. But, Hitsville is ram-jammed with the upbeat, inspirational, transformational music that defined a generation, so that will soon be forgiven and forgotten.

Besides, the whole Motown Family is featured, with interviews and performances from the likes of Martha Reeves, Mary Wilson, The Jackson Five,  Stevie Wonder, as well as Gordy and his sideman Smokey Robinson, plus admirers and commentators like Jamie Foxx and Dr. Dre.

R&VFF dreams of screening Hitsville alongside the fantastic Standing in the Shadows of Motown (Dir. Paul Justman, 2002), which told the story of The Funk Brothers, the Motown band behind the chart-topping sounds at the label’s music factory in Detroit, before Gordy Pied-Pipered the brand to LA – leaving the band behind.


The Gift Dir.Julien Temple, Documentary, 2020

This documentary about Shane McGowan, singer/songwriter/frontman of The Progues, is described as ‘raw and unflinching’, and is slated to ‘shed new light’ on the edgy punk-folk rocker. McGowan and his band enjoyed global fame in the 1980s, and Temple’s film combines archive and new material: interviews, footage of family life, concerts, as well the customary talking heads. The director’s other films include The Great Rock and Roll Swindle (1982), The Secret Policeman’s Other Ball, and Absolute Beginners, so much is expected.