A documentary following Quincy Jones's rise from the rough streets of Chicago to being a famous producer and composer. When I saw this coming on TV I assumed that it was going to be a TV movie with actors etc dramatising key elements of Jones's life. I was pleasantly surprised to find it was a documentary.
This is built around a series of comments from family members, musicians etc intercut with old footage of the times. Contributions range from family members, Ice-T, Spielberg, Ray Charles, Dizzy Gillespie, Sidney Lumet, Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, Big Daddy Kane, Oprah Winfrey to Jessie Jackson. The number of people is huge and it could have benefited from having their names regularly appear on screen when they talk, just to keep track of them. However the bones of the documentary are from the family members - all the musicians etc have to do is sing (literally) his praises. The family reveal the less successful side of his life, his childhood, his family life etc.
This does try to be honest and put all comments up on screen, however you do feel that it errs on the side of spin at times and that some issues could have been given more time (do his children feel the same about him as he feels about his parents?) and less on his greatness.
The documentary is well put together in terms of mixing film with interviews and dealing with a huge number of comments. However the package had two problems for me. Firstly it could have had more quality than quantity - some stars are given too much time with nothing really revealing to say, the family were well used but surely more of his colleagues had good stories and anecdotes to tell? Secondly the pace is often all wrong. Scenes are edited like pop videos, comments are run on top of each other, nobody is really given a significant time to say more than a few sentences or a paragraph - even when they have something to say. If you compare it to When We Were Kings, WWWK only had a few people making comments (only two for the most part). Also WWWK allowed the interviewees time on screen for their memories, their stories and their opinions - this made it all the more fascinating, you felt you're were being let in on something. Here the majority of stars only have the same good things to say - it all gets boring after a while. Thankfully the family keep the thing alive, even Jones himself is a lot more vulnerable and honest than I thought he would let himself be.
Overall a very interesting documentary about a man who rose from impossible circumstances in the face of adversity to make it big.
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