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The theatregoer hoping to get some insight into Jimi Hendrix and London
in 1966/67 will leave the theatre disappointed or duped by the film
Before seeing the film I was apprehensive, as I had been told that my character was portrayed in a derogatory and potentially defamatory manner. I had been told that Jimi had beaten me with a telephone in the film and after I had protested that this was not true the film makers had replied that it was true because they had "thoroughly researched" me.
In other words they were saying that they were telling the truth and I was not.
During the opening scenes I found it difficult to comprehend the way the story was unfolding, or what it was depicting. The editing was disjointed and dialogue was layered on top of alternate dialogue, seemingly from a parallel conversation.
The film progressed in a confusing and dull manner but there was one scene that gave me a momentary lift of anticipation. The scene depicts Jimi playing with Cream at the Polytechnic Students' Union and should have set out to depict an absolutely epic event that I had witnessed. (I had been carrying Jimi's guitar).
I hoped that they would do Jimi justice in their interpretation of what happened. Unfortunately, once the music started, my heart sank. What a disappointment. Not only was it insulting to Jimi's legacy, but I would say it was fairly insulting to Eric Clapton as well because the real Eric Clapton would never have been in awe of the unremarkable performance presented to viewers in this film.
The storyline progressed in an awkward and illogical way and was hard to comprehend.
The basis seemed to be that the dimwitted "Jimi" could not make up his mind between the good rock chick (Linda Keith) and the bad rock chick (Kathy Etchingham) who later goes bonkers and takes an overdose. (If I was the actress having to play this lousy part wearing those ugly clothes I may have taken an overdose too.)
The strange fact that jars with this fictional narrative is that, in reality, the unfortunate Linda Keith ended up in rehab at around this time because Keith Richards, of all people, initiated an intervention that probably saved her life. She was hardly in a position to be advising Jimi on how to play the guitar and do his hair.
Fictional characters were introduced that furthered the deluded political, racial and sexist agenda that John Ridley seemed to be pursuing. In particular Michael X was presented as a saintly black political guru whereas in truth he was a violent criminal con man who was executed for a gruesome murder. An "Ida" character is introduced who never existed in real life.
The biggest disappointment of this film was that after expecting at least some kind of depiction of Jimi's humour and creativity and the amusing and creative times that were happening in London, instead we were shown a gloomy and depressing dark tale that pictured Jimi as some sort of moronic mumbling mystic with no ambition.
Instead of showing Jimi touring the UK and Europe, writing and performing the most innovative music of the century we are shown scenes of banal mumblings, fictitious gratuitous violence and fictitious mental breakdowns and overdoses.
My initial anxiety turned to scorn for the thoroughly bad screenplay and direction. I became bored and impatient for the end of the film.
The fictional nature of the film left me feeling that the events I was watching were more akin to a made for DVD movie than a biopic.
I felt that I wasn't watching an interpretation of the real events from the time, but rather a stiff and poorly depicted mashup of trivia from events described in my book, sprinkled over Ridley's racially driven fictional theme.
Even the imaginary domestic violence, mental breakdown and drug use that my character was involved in did not evoke the emotional response I expected, and I found myself feeling just as I have when watching other bad movies, impatient for it to just finish and spare me the indignity of having to watch another tiresome scene with wooden dialogue and disjointed editing.
A short-sighted and somewhat offensive portrayal of Jimi and those around him at the time.
Final verdict: Fictional Movie 2/10 Biopic purporting to be based in fact 1/10 (for spelling all the names right)
The dude who said this film is racist doesn't understand Jimmi
Hendrix's life. He was a complete unknown drifting from venue to venue
under a lot of different monikers only to be discovered by the
girlfriend of Keith Richards. That was the era he lived in-- as a black
musician in that era coupled with his ridiculous dress, he would have
never been given a chance otherwise. If you look into his Harlem show,
even black people didn't "get" him. If you're a real Hendrix fan, or
have read some of his biographies this film aims to stick true to the
actual story of his life--not a politically correct version modified
for the 21st century.
And borderline autistic? That's how Hendrix spoke. He was incredibly shy and soft spoken unless he had his guitar in his hand. Watch just about any interview on live television where he was talking one on one with the host--it's awkward and clumsy to the point where you think there's something wrong with him. Add on an intense amount of personal substance abuse and you'll be able to understand why Andre 3000's portrayal of Jimi was spot on.
I'd say if you walk into this film with a little bit of historical understanding of Hendrix's life as well as an awareness about the social pressures shaping the man you'll find this film to be a pretty accurate representation on the guitar god.
When dealing with such an iconic figure such as Jimi Hendrix, sometimes
the hardest thing about capturing the essence of a character, the
perspectives of a legend, and the workings of a man are the most
difficult points to show on screen. Jimi Hendrix is a name that pretty
well everyone knows, and a name that many will continue to remember for
many years to come. So how does one humanize, arguably, the greatest
guitar player who ever lived?
The film itself is an exercise in the practice of subtly and minute brilliance. All Is By My Side is a rustic and antique look at the life of a man; Johnny Allen Hendrix, a man who served the US army and was honourably discharged; Jimmy James, the backing guitarist for the Isley Brother's, Little Richard and Curtis Knight; finally Jimi Hendrixthe experience.
Undoubtedly, first time director, veteran screenwriter and passionate Hendrix fan John Ridley had a difficult time with the production. Relying mostly on passion, Ridley focused on the small instances of Hendrix's career, and navigates through the film with nuanced characters and fragmented events in Hendrix's career.
Its admirable how Ridley, through a slew of obstacles, was still able to delve deep into the world of Hendrix through extensive research. Unable to attain the musical rights from the Hendrix estate, Ridley opted for covers of Hendrix songs and songs Hendrix covered to fill the somewhat hushed void of a musical autobiography. I won't lie in saying that I was quite surprised to see an autobiographical film of one of the loudest and most electric guitarist to be so quiet. The soundtrack is definitely something I will not be rushing to get.
Although Ridley was unable to fill the musical gap of the film, he made up for it visually and in his actors performances. Andrea Benjamin's take on Hendrix will surely be the overlooked performance of the year. Nailing Hendrix's mannerism, voice, passion (or lack there-of) and his nonchalant attitude, Benjamin is spot-on. Not far behind is Imogen Poots and her portrayal of Linda Keith, the woman who was responsible for introducing the world to Hendrix. Poots is an absolute acting force to be reckoned with. Linda's subdue scenes with Hendrix, although somewhat tame and uneventful, give the audience the most auspicious look into the inner workings of the Hendrix psyche.
All Is By My Side will surely be an overlooked film by critics and audiences alike. Substituting thunderous Hendrix stage antics with gorgeous shots of the London landscape, the smokey underground music scene at the time and blurry world of rock and roll, cinematographer Tim Fleming creates an intimate portrayal of a man who was mysterious and misunderstood to others, but to himself as well.
All Is By My Side is a beautiful, quiet and stylistically generous offering to the hardcore Hendrix fan.
Night Film Reviews: 7/10 Stars
Man, I don't know what drugs some of these other reviewers are on. One
person seems to be under the impression that the movie claims Jimi
didn't play guitar before he came to England. WTF? Another person
claims the film is racist because it accurately portrays white people
helping Jimi move to London and start his own band. Yet another person
claims Eric Clapton didn't walk off the stage when Jimi sat in with
Cream because Clapton doesn't mention it when he's interviewed, but
plenty of others remember it that way, and Clapton isn't going to go
out of his way to bring up something that makes him look bad. Which
brings us to Ms. Etchingham. You know, every time you watch a
documentary about Hendrix there's an interview with a different woman
whose only claim to fame in life is that she slept with Jimi, and they
all seem to be self-appointed guardians of his legacy, every one of
them was the real true love of his life, and none of them have a single
negative word to say about him. But Hendrix was a famous womanizerhow
he juggled jealous women is part of the focus of the filmand it is
well known that he became angry and violent when he drank. So maybe
Jimi beat her and maybe he didn't, but if he did I wouldn't really
expect Ms. Etchingham to admit it, and if he didn't it doesn't really
bother me that much because the episode can be viewed as a metaphor for
a darker side of his personality that really did exist and wouldn't
have been explored in the film without that scene.
Artistically I thought the film was a triumph and one of the best rock biopics I've seen. Andre Benjamin NAILS Jimi. He deserves an Oscar nomination for his performance. He obviously spent a lot of time listening to audio of Jimi speaking because he captured the rhythm and inflections of Jimi's speech perfectly. And acting-wise Benjamin was excellent, I thought he got inside Jimi's character even more than Jamie Foxx did in Ray. As an actor he was remarkably in the moment and very subtle. And the female leads are with him all the way, especially Imogen Poots as Linda Keith, she's soooo good. The reviewer who said that the "crazy cuts and directing style" gave him a headache would undoubtedly get a cerebral hemorrhage from a Godard film, the editing was artistically innovative and miles ahead of standard Hollywood flicks like Get On Up and Ray.
As for the lack of original Hendrix songs, in the end it didn't bother me much. In a way it might have worked to the film's advantage, because it forced the director to concentrate more on creating a character study based on dialogue and narrative instead of recreating one performance clip after another, as in Get On Up. And anyhow, two-thirds of the movie takes place before Jimi put together the Experience and started writing songs. I did wonder why they didn't use "Hey Joe" since Jimi didn't write it and he was playing it onstage when Chas Chandler saw him for the first time. But overall, I loved the movie and thought it rocked hard.
I have been an avid Hendrix fan ever since the first time I heard his music back in the sixties. I've listened to all his recordings, watched every video and read most literature written about his life. This film makes Jimi out to be a dull moron who was violent and not interesting! What I would give to have had his talent and beautiful character! He was a lovely human being and the greatest musician to have ever graced this planet! He would have never hurt Kathy as was portrayed in this horrible film! Ridley made it seem that there was no interest in Jimi after he got to London and he lived as a hermit in his London flat... that is so far from the truth! When he played with the Cream, Eric did not walk off stage with anger and jealous envy... he has said in several interviews that he greatly enjoyed the session and had a great time playing with him! I am sad and offended that this garbage was allowed to air throughout the world! I hope that most people agree with me and will not be influenced into believing this trash!
I agree with Kathy: This film is absolutely laughable... Not worthy of
the man, his music, his life and his legacy... I hope that the Hendrix
family/estate take whoever made this tripe to the cleaners. Not a story
of Jimi the musical pioneer, or even Jimi the man. This is a crass
caricature: A hatchet job that plays up to the cliché of the 'wild man
of rock' as the 'Badass Troubleman' and all that crap. Wild man of rock
he may have been (everybody liked to party in those days), but that
doesn't make him a monster. Because Jimi certainly wasn't.
Also the idea that Linda Keith gave Jimi a guitar owned by Keith Richards: and that this 'started Jimi off' is absurd... Richards says himself in his autobiography that he and Linda split long before she met Hendrix (she didn't even leave Keef for Jimi. There were others before him). The guitar credit claim is ludicrous: Every Hendrix fan knows Jimi played guitar long before he came to England. Jimi played his guitar when he was in the army (ask Billy Cox!). Jimi was a guitarist before he knew Ms. Keith existed...
This pile of complete nonsense is disrespectful to Jimi and those who lived with him and loved him... This film about Jimi is similar to Albert Goldman'sbook about John Lennon: Cheap,nasty and attempting to make money out of flinging dirt around. For me this film gets nothing (and I mean nothing!). But seen as there is no zero mark, it will have to be a very reluctant 1...
As for Andre 3000 as Hendrix, It should have marketed as a comedy. What's next? Justin Bieber as Elvis Presley?
The movie was OK. Nor a masterpiece by any means, but a solid entry that shows part of the Hendrix life. I'm not good in writing reviews, in fact I believe that they are pointless, and everyone should base their opinion by seeing a movie. Nevertheless I had to make an entry because of that ignorant 'garbage' and 'racist' review. Do not get me wrong, you are entitled to think about any movie as garbage, and I'm fine with that. But when someone shows his/hers ignorance and calls historic facts racist... That's just sad. Shall we rewrite history? Please read Hendrix biography. If it wasn't for that lady, that was sleeping with Richards, Hendrix would not made a contact with a manager, that helped him develop his career. Sames go with so many (white if that matters - for me not, and if that matters for you, you are the racist... I'd like to remind, that it works both ways..) other people that helped him along the way, e.g. if it was not for McCartney he would _never_ play at the Monterrey Festival... That festival made him well known in the USA, because earlier his hit from Britain did not even enter top 100 in the USA... Similarly with the violence - quite well documented. The guy just couldn't handle alcohol, and changed after it, as so many people do. To sum up - Hendrix would always be a Hendrix (even changing name to Jimi was suggested by a white guy, oops). Great talent, great naivety, and bad life decisions. The point I'm making is, that at that time, without the help of white people, he would not become so famous. Sometimes skills are just not enough, you have to have luck, and met the right people. Do not try to rewrite history... You know also what? These people were so much better than the mindless PC obsessed masses. They didn't care about the skin color, just the talent, the music, the person. Who he was. An that was the late 60s I want to remind you. Not an easy time for people of color (less in Europe, but still). So, people, please watch the movie, read Hendrix biography (or if you are lazy, his Wikipedia page), and stop with this racists BS.
Jimi: All Is By My Side starts in June 1966, when Jimi Hendrix was just
a young struggling R&B musician trying to make it in New York. It ends
moments before Jimi leaves London to appear at the Monterey Pop
Festival, June 1967.
This was an exciting period in Hendrix's life, but what director/writer John Ridley (12 Years a Slave) offers the audience is a slow-paced drama full of inaccuracies, and not even one note of original Hendrix music. It helps to know a little about the rock star's life before watching the movie, but the more you know, the more fault you find.
The story seems mostly told from the perspective of Linda Keith (Imogen Poots), girlfriend of Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones. While Richards is away on tour, Linda discovers Hendrix at a discotheque, introduces him to LSD, and unites him with a producer who has plans to make him a big star in England. Unfortunately, too much of the next 117 minutes focuses on the rivalry between Linda Keith and Hendrix's new girlfriend Kathy Etchingham (Hayley Atwell).
André Benjamin does a decent job of capturing Hendrix's chain-smoking, gum-chewing, cosmic babble persona, but not much of his stage charisma. His lines are a conglomeration of quotes Hendrix said years after this short time frame. The line "When the power of love overcomes the love of power " was never even said by Hendrix. There are also several uses of current urban slang like "hella" and "fo' real" that easily flow off the tongues of the '60s characters.
The real life Kathy Etchingham has objected to her portrayal in this film from its very start. Etchingham is portrayed as having an instant infatuation with Hendrix but tolerates several beatings from him. Etchingham does admit there was a time when she threw a plate at Hendrix after he made snide comments about her bad cooking, but it was nothing like the bloody scene in the movie where in a jealous rage Hendrix beat her with a telephone receiver until she was unconscious and hospitalized.
Also disappointing was session player Robert "Waddy" Wachtel's take on Hendrix's sound in the studio and on stage. Granted, those are some big shoes to fill, but Wachtel's guitar work falls way below an acceptable line. The scene where Hendrix wins over Chas Chandler (Andrew Buckley)with a stunning guitar solo at the Café Wha? comes off lackluster, as is the version of "Sgt. Pepper's " which isn't even close to the way The Jimi Hendrix Experience played it on several occasions.
As mentioned earlier, no original Hendrix music was authorized for this movie. Experience Hendrix LLC (run by Hendrix's step-sister) said no to the project early on, so all Hendrix fans are left with are covers like "Wild Thing" and "Killin' Floor." And for some reason, "Hey Joe" was left out. Hendrix's cover of "Hey Joe" was an important motivator for Chas Chandler to bring Hendrix to England. It went to Number 6 in the U.K., but the movie gives the impression that Hendrix wasn't having any chart success.
As the credits role, Benjamin and Wachtel do an odd duet of "Bleeding Heart" in the style of the Hendrix's acoustic version of "Hear My Train a Comin'." The whole experience felt like a low- budget made-for-TV flick that came out in 1974. Jimi Hendrix deserves far better. http://bammagazine.com/hendrix-without-his-mojo-or-hey-joe-2/
And he does a great job of capturing the persona of the man.
It's funny, I did not realize how much I knew about Hendrix. Than again, his impact in music was iconic, but his time on the scene was very short, so the info is consolidated. Everything I know about Hendrix comes from second hand accounts from those who knew, or to be more accurate, played with the man. This makes everything going on in the movie feel like Jimi is now telling his side of the story
Comparing this movie to another movie about the guitar god called Hendrix which came out in 2000, which like this movie had no Hendrix music played in it, but All Is by My Side makes you feel like your not missing that.
Andre Benjaminn and the filmmakers really capture the man and make you feel like you hear the music (even though you never do). I been hearing about Andre wanting to play Jimi for 10 years now so he had plenty of time to research the role and it was everything I heard Hendrix to be.
Also, unlike the other Hendrix film, this movie focuses on Hendrix before he became an icon. That year before he broke in America. When he was playing in New York than headed to London and formed the Experience.
It also focus on three woman who had a big influence on his life during this time, this was my favorite part of the film as I had no idea how much I actually knew about Jimi's personal life.
I read one review on this website in which the person who wrote it was upset about racist comments stated in other reviews. This is fitting for a Hendix movie and this part of his career is touched on nicely about how Jimi was not black enough for blacks and should be playing more music for black people, none of them realizing at the time that having a sea of white people worship the ground you walk on is just as good for the cause as James Brown singing a protest song. All Jimi cared about was the music he loved to play and the film was fair about this point.
In comparisons to Get on up, I like this movie way better, but I'm a huge fan of Hendrix. Hopefully one day, we will get a movie using Jimi's music, but it's weird that this movie truly works without it.
@uberificbrownie In fact the women featured as Hendrix' friend and
lover have come out publicly to declare the film is very inaccurate in
several ways. You can read for yourself on the real Linda E.'s web
site. She said that Ridley took bits of events that she wrote about in
her autobiography and turned them around to fit his modern-day vision.
I think she's right in some ways, certainly if you look at Atwell in
the movie she's portrayed as being rather common and juxtaposed against
Poots' character who is a posh intellectual/romantic.
You see what he's doing right off; Linda E. is the "old" Jimi who played juke joints with few noticing, Linda K helps him find the new Jimi who will be remembered forever. His process going from a back-up blues man to a legend was very likely a lot more complicated than that, and took more than a few notes from a friend to make him what he became.
But that's the Hollywood formula biopic, it encourages simplification of complexities. And sometimes, unfortunately when it comes to observing African American figures, the script may often have a White hand leading the Black hand along (see also 12 YEARS).
The other thing to note is that Ridley does seem to be a political conservative. They tend to observe black and white (not talking about race) more than grey.
It isn't hard to get things right like Hendrix' tone of voice (yes he was soft spoken) or his clothing and hair. Getting the rest "right" is likely harder.
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