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2013 | 2004 | 1999

2 items from 2004


Lightning in a Bottle

9 July 2004 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Screened

Berlin International Film Festival

BERLIN -- Yet another film in a series about blues music, which Martin Scorsese exec produces, "Lightning in a Bottle" simply lets the sinfully gorgeous music and emotions sweep over an audience. Director Antoine Fuqua, who directed music videos before launching his feature career, brought his cameras to New York's Radio City Music Hall in February 2003 to capture a benefit concert by more than 50 artists spanning several generations from Indie.Arie and Bonnie Raitt to Natalie Cole and B.B. King. The result is pure pleasure for fans of the blues. One can only hope this series will create more fans of an American musical form whose adherents are small in number but passionate.

Interspersed with the concert footage are occasional interviews backstage with artists and archival footage of legendary performers no longer living. Mostly, though, Fuqua goes to the source --vibrant, stirring, soothing sounds that put a chill down one's back and a serious tap in one's feet.

Blues is a wonderful contradiction, a joyous music usually about incredible sorrow. Reflecting its roots in spirituals and gospel music, blues bypasses the mind for the heart. The artists Fuqua records, who are among the very best, have special abilities with voice and instruments that go beyond mere talent. They have the ability to put their lives, the sum of all their joys and sorrows, into this music.

The concert itself is designed to follow a geographical and historical line, beginning with the music's African roots, then up the Mississippi Delta to Chicago and over to Memphis, where other influences come into play.

Yet Fuqua chooses not to press these points. This is no music lecture, just a straightforward concert film, smoothly videotaped by cameramen under the direction of cinematographer Lisa Rinzler. The energy emanating from the stage is tremendous. Marcy Gray doing "Hound Dog" the way it was meant to be sung, Cole teaming up with Ruth Brown and Mavis Staples for the jocular "Men Are Like Streetcars", Buddy Guy performing Jimi Hendrix's "Red House", Indie.Arie performing Billie Holiday's signature song "Strange Fruit" -- these are all special moments.

But this is an art form that is losing its audience. The crowd shots at Radio City fail to turn up many black faces. Hip-hop and rap now consume young black -- and most white -- music listeners. This leaves blues to an older generation for the most part. But Fuqua has caught lightning in a bottle, so there may be hope yet that young people will get inspired by this movie from one of Hollywood's hottest directors.

Lightning in a Bottle

Vulcan Prods. presents in association with Cappa Prods. and Jigsaw Prods.

Credits:

Director: Antoine Fuqua

Producers: Alex Gibney, Margaret Bodde, Jack Gulick

Executive producers: Paul G. Allen, Jody Patton, Martin Scorsese

Director of photography: Lisa Rinzler

Musical director: Steve Jordan

Co-producers: Richard Hutton

Editors: Bob Eisenhardt, Keith Salmon

Running time -- 109 minutes

No MPAA rating »

Permalink | Report a problem


Lightning in a Bottle

17 February 2004 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Screened

Berlin International Film Festival

BERLIN -- Yet another film in a series about blues music, which Martin Scorsese exec produces, "Lightning in a Bottle" simply lets the sinfully gorgeous music and emotions sweep over an audience. Director Antoine Fuqua, who directed music videos before launching his feature career, brought his cameras to New York's Radio City Music Hall in February 2003 to capture a benefit concert by more than 50 artists spanning several generations from Indie.Arie and Bonnie Raitt to Natalie Cole and B.B. King. The result is pure pleasure for fans of the blues. One can only hope this series will create more fans of an American musical form whose adherents are small in number but passionate.

Interspersed with the concert footage are occasional interviews backstage with artists and archival footage of legendary performers no longer living. Mostly, though, Fuqua goes to the source --vibrant, stirring, soothing sounds that put a chill down one's back and a serious tap in one's feet.

Blues is a wonderful contradiction, a joyous music usually about incredible sorrow. Reflecting its roots in spirituals and gospel music, blues bypasses the mind for the heart. The artists Fuqua records, who are among the very best, have special abilities with voice and instruments that go beyond mere talent. They have the ability to put their lives, the sum of all their joys and sorrows, into this music.

The concert itself is designed to follow a geographical and historical line, beginning with the music's African roots, then up the Mississippi Delta to Chicago and over to Memphis, where other influences come into play.

Yet Fuqua chooses not to press these points. This is no music lecture, just a straightforward concert film, smoothly videotaped by cameramen under the direction of cinematographer Lisa Rinzler. The energy emanating from the stage is tremendous. Marcy Gray doing "Hound Dog" the way it was meant to be sung, Cole teaming up with Ruth Brown and Mavis Staples for the jocular "Men Are Like Streetcars", Buddy Guy performing Jimi Hendrix's "Red House", Indie.Arie performing Billie Holiday's signature song "Strange Fruit" -- these are all special moments.

But this is an art form that is losing its audience. The crowd shots at Radio City fail to turn up many black faces. Hip-hop and rap now consume young black -- and most white -- music listeners. This leaves blues to an older generation for the most part. But Fuqua has caught lightning in a bottle, so there may be hope yet that young people will get inspired by this movie from one of Hollywood's hottest directors.

Lightning in a Bottle

Vulcan Prods. presents in association with Cappa Prods. and Jigsaw Prods.

Credits:

Director: Antoine Fuqua

Producers: Alex Gibney, Margaret Bodde, Jack Gulick

Executive producers: Paul G. Allen, Jody Patton, Martin Scorsese

Director of photography: Lisa Rinzler

Musical director: Steve Jordan

Co-producers: Richard Hutton

Editors: Bob Eisenhardt, Keith Salmon

Running time -- 109 minutes

No MPAA rating »

Permalink | Report a problem


2013 | 2004 | 1999

2 items from 2004


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