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(III) (2015)

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Who killed Amy?
rubenm14 July 2015
The cover story of this week's edition of music magazine NME is: 'Who killed Amy?' It would have been a perfect title for this superb documentary. I went to see it, hoping it would answer two questions. One: could Amy Winehouse's death have been prevented in any way? Two: if so, by whom? The film provides crystal clear answers to both questions. One: no, it probably couldn't have been prevented - at best it could have been postponed. Two: several members of her entourage have probably contributed to her downward spiral. Her father, who wasn't there when he should be and was there when he shouldn't. Her husband, who encouraged her drugs abuse and seems to be an utterly despicable person. And the press, who relentlessly haunted her and enjoyed every misstep in her life. But the documentary also makes one thing very clear: in the end there's only one person responsible for Amy Winehouse's death: Amy Winehouse.

Apart from providing a stunning insight in Winehouse's short life and career, 'Amy' is also a great movie from a cinematographic perspective. The unique feature is that it consists almost entirely of existing footage. It's absolutely incredible what the film makers (with the help of the Winehouse family) have unearthed. Lots of home videos, from her youth as well as from her later life, interviews, recording sessions, telephone conversations, even voice mail messages. Sometimes it almost feels uncomfortable to view images, clearly made for personal use, on a giant screen. But they are extremely revealing. There were numerous moments when I felt like saying: wow! The very first moments of the film are almost worth the ticket price. We see an amateur home video of a birthday party: 14 year old girls giggling and fooling around, until suddenly one of them starts singing 'Happy Birthday' with a voice and technique that seem to belong to Sarah Vaughan or Ella Fitzgerald. We also see Winehouse commenting after her first single has sold 800 copies, we see a hilarious scene during a holiday in Spain, but we also see her waving a bag of marijuana in front of the camera, we see her arguing with her father, visiting her incarcerated husband, and in one haunting scene, lying on the floor in what seems a drunken stupor.

'Amy' tells an extremely sad story. It's told in all honesty: it shows how incredibly talented Winehouse was, and how dedicated to her music, but also how insecure and self-destructive. When one of her childhood friends tells how she felt when, in the end, Winehouse wasn't her old self anymore, she almost starts sobbing in the microphone. I have no doubt each and every one in the cinema theatre felt the same way after seeing this film.
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Fantastic, Honest and Raw
andre_andreas198719 July 2015
This is one of the best documentaries that I have seen because its not meant to be flashy and "entertaining". It is a very honest and emotional movie with personal clips that show her rise to fame and her feelings about it. One of the biggest reasons why I loved it was because all the different sides of her life were presented in the movie. I loved how all the opposing sides agreed to come together and make this amazing movie. Her parents, managers, ex husband were all included, even though they probably hate one another in real life. I also liked how they included full songs in the documentary. I was a big fan of Amy Winehouse before but this movie made me appreciate her personality and clever poetry. Highly recommended. trust.
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An extraordinary film, one of the most powerful I've seen in years
rick_78 July 2015
A haunting, heartbreaking and stunningly brilliant film from Senna director Asif Kapadia, which takes us into the confidence of Amy Winehouse, as the bolshy, big-voiced, jazzy Jewish girl from North London becomes a megastar, while her personal demons, her relationship with a drug addict, and a ravenous, amoral press proceed to rip her to shreds.

Thanks to an abundance of revelatory home video footage, soundtracked by incisive interviews, we see her not only as the beehived, cat- eyed chanteuse or the alarmingly ribbed tabloid quarry, tumbling out of a club at 3am, but as a shy, spotty teen with a seductive offhand confidence in her vocal gift.

I'm not an enormous fan of Winehouse's music, I think because her deeply personal writing and distinctive, expressive voice tended to be masked by such contrived, Americanised pastiche – trading first on '30s jazz and then '60s girl groups – but the portrait that emerges here is uncompromising, thrilling and frequently devastating: of an unhappy girl equipped with a massive talent, but none of the stability or serenity to deal with the perpetual media storm that her success brought upon her.

We see stand-ups and TV presenters laughing at her bulimia and drug abuse, her management pushing her out of rehab and onto foreign stages, and – in the second half – a rapacious, vulturous paparazzi incessantly stalking her, an essential decency chillingly absent. If that was my job, I think I would struggle to watch this film and think: "Yes, what I am doing with my life is essentially fine."

By contrast, Kapadia's film is quite beautifully lacking in sensationalism. Though it essentially doubles an indictment of a society almost entirely lacking in basic compassion and empathy, it's a work that possesses both virtues in apparently limitless amounts, surely compressing and simplifying an impossibly complex narrative, but attaining something that seems awfully like the truth – and apparently is, according to her closest friends.

Amy is a tough watch, but it feels essential, not just for its vivid picture of a fascinating, deeply troubled young woman, but also for its wider significance: as a plea for people to stop being so horribly selfish, to stop seeing excess and illness as 'rock and roll' and drug abuse as a joke, and for the media to realise that if it wants to paint itself as a crusading Fifth Estate, then some basic humanity wouldn't go amiss.
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A very worthy attempt at bringing the Amy Winehouse story to the screen
Red-Barracuda19 June 2015
I remember when Amy Winehouse died back in 2011 it had a certain inevitability about it yet was still shocking and very sad. The media had made a meal out of her problems documenting them at every given opportunity and her increasingly emancipated appearance was publicised for all to see, courtesy of the lowlifes of the paparazzi. Hers was life in a goldfish bowl by the end and for a person who never wanted fame in the first place; this made her life all the more difficult. What complicated matters so fatally was that in amongst all of this, she had a predisposition for drink and drugs. The combination sent her spiralling on a downward trajectory.

This documentary about her has been made by Asif Kapadia who directed the film Senna (2010) which remains one of the most highly respected documentaries of recent years. When you consider that that film was also about someone at the top of their field who died young in a dramatic and sudden manner, you could say that there are some similarities between both stories. But in reality the Amy Winehouse story is a much darker one, with its central character going on an extended path of self-destruction. And one in which we in the audience know only too well how it ends. The film is made up of home video and TV clips of Winehouse and fills in details with recollections of people who were close to her in the form of voice-overs, as opposed to a more traditional talking heads format. After the release of her definitive album Back to Black in 2006, Winehouse basically retreated and conducted next to no interviews which of course posed the film-makers some problems and the effect is that as the film goes on she becomes increasingly remote and we feel like we know her less.

The contrast between the Amy of the early years to the one latterly seen is pretty pronounced. Her appearance became more intense and she quickly covered herself with an assortment of harsh tattoos. This phase coincided with her downward spiral with drink and drugs. It seems pretty clear that her attachment to her husband Blake Fielder was inextricably linked to this. He came across as a hanger-on who led her onto hard drugs and who then had little self-interest in getting her off them. The problem was that she loved him and it was this that made the situation so destructive. Throughout the film, as her songs play, her lyrics are displayed on screen and it is obvious that much of her music was based on highly personal emotional songs that constantly were sourced from her experiences in relationships. So much of her success was derived from this well of emotion but it was one that could equally destabilise her. This was only exacerbated by her bouts of depression and her problematic relationship with her dad.

There is no getting away with the fact that this is a sad story; one that is all the more shaming when you consider that it played out so visibly in the public eye. But the public eye is very uncaring unfortunately and all too often empathises when it is far too late. But this film also captures the voice and the humour, so integral to Amy Winehouse. And so while it is impossible to ignore the tragedy, the beauty is here too. This was, after all, a very singular artist whose roots were in jazz, which is hardly a music for lightweights. Amy Winehouse was a proper talent who made music entirely on her own terms. If I was to criticise mildly it would be to say that the film itself might be marginally too long and perhaps goes over some ground more than it has to. But mainly this is ultimately a very worthy attempt to tell what is a complex and contrasting story to the screen with all its darkness and light.
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What's not to love about Amy? Her death!
jdesando17 July 2015
"You should be tougher mum, you're not strong enough to say stop." Amy Winehouse

Don't we all wish this gifted British jazz singer had heeded her advice to her beloved mother? But she didn't and lost her young life to drugs, alcohol, relentless fame, and a father, husband, manager and a whole menagerie of hangers on, whose motives were suspicious at the least. Or, maybe I should say her father, Nick, is only the most obvious sinner as he gains a reality TV show and allows his daughter to perform even in the face of her decline.

Although Amy the documentary doesn't give anyone a pass, it does show Amy's slow descent into dependencies that can only in the end be characterized as her own. The strength of the doc, however, is not to blame everyone except by implication and their very words, some of which are voiced over rather than through boring talking heads.

The first half of the film is a glorious catalogue of her young days at home and then early on singing jazz. Her tight dresses and fab legs don't even distract when we watch the essence of soul emerge out of her voice and face. Even I, barely knowledgeable in the genre, could spy greatness in her every breath.

As if to remind us of her genius, she comes back from rehab to briefly exonerate herself by singing a duet with Tony Bennett. Her diffidence with that icon next to her is as endearing as it is appropriate, given his stature in the business and her relative inexperience. Yet, Bennett himself acknowledges her gifts and compares her to the greats like Ella Fitzgerald.

Amy is director Asif Kapadia's unforgettable achievement, one of the finest music documentaries ever. However, it is not an easy ride, especially when we can feel ever so slightly complicit as we contribute to the crushing adulation of celebrity and unvarnished love of capitalism. Some like Amy Winehouse need to back away from both before it kills them.
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A whole new Amy
Avwillfan8929 July 2015
This documentary is presented in an unusual way: using only footage of Amy's home videos, photos, interviews, live performances and voice-overs only for interviews from Amy and the people who knew her best. It certainly makes a nice change from the numerous camera interviews, mixed with footage of the documentary's subject. It's intimate, raw, sympathetic and heartbreaking. With so much footage of her, in the end, you feel like you really knew her. And it's absolutely gut-wrenching when she dies.

Amy's father Mitch was very critical of the movie, saying it put him in a bad light. But in truth, he already did that himself. Although the film shows him as a loving father that wants what's best for Amy, it does show him as someone who could have done more for her. Other times, he takes a misstep in trying to get his daughter off drugs, such as insisting she doesn't go to rehab the first time, then the second time allowing both her and her drug addicted husband Blake (I curse the day she ever met him) to go clean in the same clinic, which results in them going on a horrific binge later. And another, such as bringing in a horde of cameras on holiday, when the entire purpose was for Amy to get away from all of the cameras and publicity.

Like Kurt Cobain, she was a fragile human being who couldn't handle the fame. If one doesn't have it in their blood to withstand the pressure, they won't survive. Tragically, neither Kurt nor Amy could handle it.

This brilliant bio-doc paints an entirely different picture of Amy Winehouse, other than the nasty tabloids story that hampered her over the years. The tense moments when the paparazzi assaults Amy whenever she goes out got me really annoyed. This picture is one of a loving, talented, rebellious, music loving young Jewish girl - caught up in the dangerous parts of the music industry and ultimately crippled by addiction.

10 out of 10
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Heartbreaking and captivating depiction of the life of an incredible talent
themadmovieman30 June 2015
This is a fascinating and heartbreakingly sad and dark depiction of the life of a brilliant singer. It's a touching testament to Winehouse's career, relationships and ups and downs, and it takes a very dramatic but powerful approach to telling the story in Asif Kapadia's inventive documentary style.

Kapadia directed my favourite film of all time, Senna, which I have, after countless viewings, found to be incredibly powerfully emotional, consistently exciting and, most of all, stunningly original.

Originality is a hard thing to come by in the documentary genre, but Kapadia, in both Senna and Amy, uses this fascinating style of presenting a documentary in the form of a narrative drama to make it a more engrossing and captivating experience, something that works so well, and makes for an absolutely brilliant watch.

The story of Amy Winehouse is a bittersweet one, and this film does that reality justice. On the one hand, it does a fantastic job of showing her fun-loving and upbeat personality in the years before the health problems started, and it really gives you a lasting image of a completely different Amy Winehouse to the one that almost lived in infamy towards the end of the 2000s.

However, on the other hand, this film is quite brutal and dark to watch due to its very realistic depiction of the impact of drugs, drinking and bad relationships on her life. In the second act of the film, Kapadia does a stunning job of showing how Winehouse's life completely disintegrated due to all of these problems, and it is a truly striking thing to watch.

Despite the darkness of that part of the story, one thing that remains positive throughout is how the film celebrates Winehouse's incredible talent for jazz singing. It interlinks the events of her life with her earliest and most famous singles and turns them into strongly symbolic demonstrations of her deepest emotions and thoughts.

Overall, this is a brilliantly intriguing documentary that will move you to the core. It uses a fantastically inventive narrative style to create a powerful story that shows so clearly the bittersweet nature of the life of an amazing singer.
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'Amy': A Brief, Sad Journey Worth Taking
kckidjoseph-15 August 2015
"Amy" is a sledgehammer 2015 documentary portrait of Grammy-winning British pop singer and songwriter Amy Winehouse that gives new, poignant and heartbreaking meaning to the phrase, "Hello, I must be going."

Even though we begin watching this film knowing that Winehouse died in 2011 at the age of 27 from alcohol poisoning, by the time we reach its conclusion we find ourselves praying that the ending will be different, that she will still be around when we leave the theater.

We've taken a revealing, involving, moving journey that we don't want to end.

Director Asif Kapadia opens the film with Winehouse, about 14 at the time and living in suburban northwest London, mugging on video with some friends, including her lifelong buds Juliette Ashby and Lauren Gilbert, apparently at the birthday party of one of those girls.

When Amy opens her mouth to sing, effortlessly, "Happy Birthday," and the rich, low tones of a Judy Garland mixed with the soulful, meaning-packed wail of a Billie Holiday come out, we get the director's point instantly: This was an entertainer for the ages.

Using more than 100 interviews artfully mixed with archival footage that ranges from childhood home movies of Winehouse to performances both personal and public, "Amy" will satisfy her fans while informing those not familiar with her work how very much they missed.

Among those interviewed are Winehouse's manager, Nick Shymansky _ who took on the singer when she was 16 and he was only 19 _ Yasiin Bey (also known as Mos Def), iconic singer Tony Bennett (shown in a tender, heartrending recording session with Winehouse), her father Mitchell Winehouse (in a slashing mini-portrait of a parent gone awry), pals Ashby and Gilbert, and music executives, her ex-husband, a boyfriend, a publicist and a one-time bodyguard.

You'll also see here the likes of Jay Leno, who welcomed her with open arms on his "Tonight Show" when she was at the top of her game, but had no qualms about shafting her later in his monologue when she was having problems with drugs. Heartless and shameful don't begin to cover it.

Leno's use _ and discarding of _ Winehouse also is a stark metaphor for how her peers and the public alike seem to use then trash celebrities at times when they most need us as fellow human beings.

Hearing Winehouse bounce through her song "Rehab," which opens with the lyric "They tried to make me rehab but I said 'No, no, no,'" is an ugly reminder of how troubled she was and how neglectful and complicit we all were in not insisting more be done for her.

"Amy" is important both in setting the record straight about Winehouse and also in warning us not to commit the same grievous mistake with yet another celebrity.

("Amy," which has a running time of 2 hours and eight minutes, is rated R _ under 17, requires accompanying parent or adult guardian _ and contains drug and alcohol use.)
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It's sad, depressing, interesting and very insightful
GavinHeisenberg9 July 2015
"Amy" The Amy Winehouse Documentary is brilliant. It's sad, depressing, interesting and very insightful. You feel like a fly on the wall as you watch raw video footage throughout that shows you that there were various factors that lead to her Drug addiction and untimely death. It shows you that she wasn't just a dumb junkie but from a young age she was a very mentally troubled person. She had a lack of discipline at a young age. Her Father neglected her as a child. But he had no problem using her as a meal ticket once she became famous. She had various mental issues such as depression and bulimia. Whilst I don't condone Drugs the doc does show you how and why people try and get hooked on them. The Doc is very fair in showing the good side and bad side of Amy. Ultimately it leaves it up to you to make your own judgement about her. My only gripe is that Amy's final Boyfriend Reg Traviss isn't in it at all. This is a huge omission considering he was with her until she died. Overall it is an amazing documentary that is thought provoking and will create a debate between people. RIP Amy 9/10
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Moving but Harrowing Documentary on a gifted but fragile talent
BJJManchester24 July 2015
Warning: Spoilers
'Amy', a documentary on the late British jazz/soul singer Amy Winehouse,is totally compelling and absorbing from first to last shot,though anyone with a human heart beating as I try would acknowledge it is very difficult and harrowing to watch.

Around a decade ago,I worked as a mobile DJ for three years,and in the midst of having to play prosaic,corporate and assembly-line produced music,Amy Winehouse was the one artist I had time for;her compositions and lyrics had a quirky,original style about them helped along by her husky,soulful voice.I don't think that 'Amy' is exploitative at all;it is actually very respectful if not reverent of her considerable talent,rare then and now in an era when individuals with the slightest smidgen of talent compared to her are absurdly hyped by PR agencies,trashy celeb mags and tabloids beyond their real worth.It would have been disingenuous if it had not looked into the full story of her deep problems with depression,bulimia and substance abuse.The break-up of her parents' marriage and their faults in nurturing had an undoubted effect;to be put on anti-depressants as she was in mid-adolescence was the first of many misguided decisions taken by those surrounding her or by the singer herself.

She wasn't interested in being famous as she thought she would not be able to handle such attention;singing jazz standards in small clubs would have been the ideal living for her.keeping a low profile from the limelight,but such was her talent that various managers,record execs and promoters promised her wealth and greater opportunities which she succumbed to.It was made obvious in the film that all those closest to her (with a few honourable exceptions) either didn't realise or care that Amy was a very vulnerable,troubled young woman,frail emotionally and physically,and by the time the damage had been done it was too late to save her.

Her father comes across as more misguided and foolish than nasty;her husband and various other seedy hangers-on like managers,promoters,paparazzi and the like are genuine villains however,using her status,talent and wealth for their own ruthless self-interest,indifferent to the negative effect it was having on Amy,who was too incredulous and naive to perceive how she was being exploited.The saddest scene of all was towards the end at a concert in Belgrade;clearly in no fit state to perform,all she could do was either put her arms round various colleagues and associates on stage or alternatively sit down and do nothing;with her being subject to boos and catcalls while at the eye of the storm was heartbreaking to watch,as indeed most of the film was;the brief moments of glory were saved at award ceremonies and while she performed her best known works in the recording studio,notably with her idol Tony Bennett,a genial,affable presence who in the end seemed to be more in awe of her than vice versa.

Perhaps it was unwise to show pictures of her in the worst stages of her drink and drug abuse;make-up horribly splattered across her face,later looking a skeletal,haunted wraith which were profoundly shocking.All in all,the film does not moralise or judge but leaves the viewer to make up their own conclusion;my own is that Amy would have been happy earning a modest living as a jazz/soul singer in equally modest clubs or venues,and that her considerable emotional problems from her teenage years were either ignored or disregarded by too many people around her,which in the end proved too much with her ravaged,frail body unable to cope.The story is nothing short of tragic,and Asif Kapadia has crafted a shattering but deeply moving documentary that dramatises the deep despair but also celebrates the talent of Amy Winehouse as fully and sincerely as possible.

RATING:8 out of 10.
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Back to Black
clarkj-565-16133621 June 2015
I saw this at the NXNE festival in Toronto last night. The movie was quite long, I must admit I was exhausted when I left. Not in a negative way, but overwhelmed at everything I had seen. The director had a lot of material to give us and he didn't hold back. The scene that I found the most powerful was the one in the recording studio with Tony Bennett, it was pure magic. I can't say that I followed Amy Winehouse, or was very familiar with her work, other than the song 'Rehab'. I did love her hairdo, it reminded me of the Ronettes. I am always fascinated by artists and how they develop.

We get a close up of Amy's artistic process. Her power was in her ability to constantly come up with song material that resonated with her at the deepest level and put those words to music. Combine this with a unaffected personality and an amazing ability to connect with an audience and you have a true force of nature. On the negative side, she had to deal with her personal daemons from her childhood. The tragedy was her use of drugs and alcohol. One gets the feeling from the movie of an almost inevitability of her path, but I guess that is always debatable.
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'Amy' Is a fantastic documentary about one of the Great Jazz Vocalists!
bryank-0484421 July 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Amy Winehouse might have been one of the best all time jazz singers in the world. In fact, I believe she still can hold that title, even almost five years after her death. Her voice was something unlike anyone ever heard and could be in the same league as Etta James, Billie Holiday, and Edith Piaf. In addition to her voice, she was charming, witty, and a ton of fun to be around. You just couldn't get enough of her likable personality. Unfortunately in 2011, Amy died of alcohol poisoning at the age of 27, making her one of the latest members of the '27 club', which Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain, Jim Morrison, and Brian Jones all belong to.

It's a very sad story, which director Asif Kapadia ('Senna') tells perfectly through only home video footage and present day voice interviews with those closest to the talented singer. Amy's parents, friends, and management company allowed for all of the intimate concert footage, behind the scenes footage, and the rare home movies to be showed here, however, Amy's parents are not too happy now, once they've seen the final product. This makes me laugh, because her parents aren't exactly good people, and were mostly responsible for her downfall.

Simply titled 'Amy', we get a glimpse of Amy's life before she made it famous. She sure was a lot of fun, as we see her hanging out with friends and being a little ham at birthday parties or even pretending to give a house tour as a Spanish maid. It was quite funny. Even though it was later in her young life where the paparazzi were all over her 24/7, her friends and family had a camera in front of her, before she got famous, and even then, we could have seen how talented and fun she was.

With interviews with her own parents, closest friends, and even Mark Ronson, Salaam Remi, Yassin Bey, Tony Bennett, and Questlove, we see through the eyes of those near her, what life was like. Even her awful human being of a lover she kept, Blake Fielder is interviewed here, and he is as atrocious as he was ten years ago, without a remorse for anything related to Amy or in life really. Once she started seeing the druggie Fielder, is where things started slowly going downhill, which is where this documentary turns to a more somber note.

Don't get me wrong, Amy could have changed her ways, or even gotten better help, but she didn't know how to. And nobody close to her really was telling her "no", especially her parents. We all know how everything turned out, as it was widely reported in media. It's heartbreaking. But nobody can deny that she was one of the best jazz vocalists to have ever lived. Her almost instant rise to super stardom caused a lot of problems, because all she wanted to be was a normal person without all of the cameras in her face. 'Amy' is a solid tribute film to Amy Winehouse, one that she would be proud of, warts and all.
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"Amy" is a revealing and personal portrait of Amy Winehouse, but should have dug deeper.
CleveMan6618 July 2015
It's difficult to sum up a celebrity's entire life in a two-hour film, even if that person died at a young age. Placing that person's public moments in the proper context, showing some of the private moments to provide insight, revealing influences, hopes, fears and struggles to provide understanding and digging deep enough to suggest lessons the audience can learn from that celebrity's life – it's a lot to cover. Filmmakers have to decide what their focus should be, what to include, what to delve into, what to summarize and what to leave out. In addition, if the film is a documentary, they need adequate video and audio to tell the aspects of the story that they've chosen to tell. If they don't have video, they have a radio program and if they don't have audio, they have a book. It's all those challenges the makers of "Amy" (R, 2:08) had to confront. They did it fairly well on the surface, but could have dug deeper.

British singer-songwriter Amy Winehouse died of alcohol poisoning in her London home on July 23, 2011, at the age of 27, a sad ending that gives this documentary on her life much of its power. The filmmakers know that and focus on Winehouse's rise to fame and her struggles with being famous, all of which can be said to have led to her death at the same age that also we lost musicians Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison and Kurt Cobain (the so-called "27 Club"). Those who are drawn to Winehouse's story because of the tragedy of her premature demise will indeed get some answers as the film discusses the struggles she had dealing with the price of fame and her resulting problems with drugs, alcohol and bulimia nervosa. Those who are fans of her music will get a generous helping of stories about her rise to fame and samplings of her music.

Director Asif Kapadia was fortunate enough to have an abundance of material to use in telling Winehouse's story. No narrator is needed, as interviews with the singer's family, friends and music industry professionals provide the necessary exposition. But these are not talking heads. Almost all the soundbites are short and are edited in as voice-overs, with on-screen fonts identifying the speakers. The film's visuals include home video of Winehouse, from her teens onward, news clips, television appearances and concert footage. In the scenes of her musical performances, the words to her songs are subtly and artfully presented on the screen as she sings. Throughout the film, dates and locations also appear on the screen to provide the necessary sense of time and place, while the transitions to different events and periods in the subject's life are otherwise seamless.

"Amy" provides a very good summary of Winehouse's career, personality and life as she transitioned from "just a girl who can sing" to a worldwide celebrity, but it should have gone farther. Some of the time spent delving into her personal relationships could have been surrendered in favor of revealing aspects of her life which were almost completely ignored, such as the evolution of her sense of style, her significant charity work and her efforts on behalf of other musicians. We also could've done with fewer details and soundbites concerning her drug and alcohol abuse, if it meant more analysis of who or what was to blame for her problems. In spite of missed opportunities to make itself more meaningful, this film is a revealing personal portrait of a unique talent and a lost soul who died much too young. "B"
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Blew me away. essential
kpentlanduk15 November 2015
AMY was quite something, really affected me. 10 out of 10.

Tony Bennett quoted in this outstanding documentary. ''Slow down, you are too important. Life teaches you really how to live it if you can live long enough''.

That quote is something I intend to follow. The scene where Amy sings with Tony is remarkable, her singing with her idol. really touching.

I always felt Amy's voice and now I can see her shining talent as a lyricist too. Such a strong mature voice yet such a fragile person. Love, drink, drugs just shook her to the core. You see how nasty and deranged she turned when high. Not pleasant to see, but you also see her shining witty side.

Her dad came across as someone who jumped in to Manage her life far too late - only when fame and money came along. He did come across as a nasty piece of work.

AMY holds SO much footage of her from an early age you find yourself growing with her. Her bouts of madness were just tangible... Maddening to see the glare of fame tear her apart. Paparazzi/media scum being an evil she could not tolerate. As Tony Bennett nails it - she was a natural, true Jazz singer.

Why would anyone want to become famous, to be in that limelight, being stalked by press and fans alike. madness!

Oh to sum up this is ESSENTIAL. Amy Winehouse fan or not her story WILL affect you. Personally I felt privileged to follow her life and immensely saddened to see such a talented soul leave us so young.
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Powerful film showing a great and frail artist
robinroberts116 August 2015
Warning: Spoilers
I didn't know much about Amy Winehouse. I feel so sad for her. The two men she looked up to the most in her life totally failed her; her husband and her father. I got choked up at the end when Tony Bennet said (and I paraphrase) " ... life will teach you how to live ... if you live long enough to learn." She was an old person in a young body so super talented. It upsets me when people were making fun of her problems. She was sick and needed help. I think she was close to making it out of her funk. But her addictions killed her in the end. Why didn't someone save her from herself? So many people in her close circle loved her so much.
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Good Technical Quality, Skewed Priorities
mamietwo26 July 2015
For fans of Amy Winehouse, "Amy" is must-see. The story is already known, although the film provides many interesting details perhaps not widely seen in public media. To avoid spoilers, I will stick to vague strengths and weaknesses.

Strengths: > Good video and sound for the music parts - this is not somebody's iPhone video of a public performance > Chronology of story development - the film follows Amy's short life without jumping around in time > The obvious bias is that of a fan. Janis Joplin's biographers have not been nearly as kind. The performance sections in "Amy" are carefully chosen > No secret here: the pop music business and the pop media business have no humanity. They showed no mercy toward a fragile young woman who struck gold. This point was made clearly. The only improvement I can think of would be to get Keith Richards to comment on how the world loves to see its pop idols hounded - by police, by media, by fans, and by promoters

Weaknesses > Not enough music parts - the profound talent is displayed, but should have been put forth more often and for longer periods > The sensational drug and alcohol abuse drama overwhelms the film as it did the artist herself. That may have been the point, but if so, it was made heavy-handedly > Given the first two weaknesses, this film is just too long. I kept wishing they would get back to the concert and recording-session footage

The film is still a must-see for Amy Winehouse fans. Full disclosure: I am a huge fan of Amy Winehouse's jazz record with Tony Bennett.
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Familiar Story with an Incredibly Poignant Twist
l_rawjalaurence30 October 2015
Asif Kapadia's documentary tells a familiar tale of the life and death of Amy Winehouse - a precocious talent from North London with a unique vocal and songwriting talent destroyed by a combination of willful manipulation, drugs and drink. The same could also be said for other great jazz singers of the past, notably Billie Holiday (whose voice often seems eerily similar to Winehouse's).

With the help of childhood friends and archive interviews, Kapadia paints a picture of a Jewish girl growing up in an unstable household. Her father Mitch had an affair when Amy was still a baby, and finally left home when she was eight or nine. Her mother Janis admitted that she was really too weak to keep Amy under control: Amy grew up doing virtually what she wanted with little or no authority to restrain her.

By her teenage years it was clear that Amy had a unique talent for singing and writing songs reflecting her various angst. Signed to a contract by Island Records, she gradually rose to stardom, while keeping her feet on the ground; she was always someone most at home with writing and recording music. Video footage from the period shows her enjoying herself with her companions as they traveled to various gigs. At heart she was a girl wanting to enjoy the experience of growing up and adjusting to the world.

Things only really started going wrong once she crossed the Rubicon from well-known jazz artist into international star. Feted on television in both Britain and the United States, it seemed as if the world was her oyster. Yet it was also evident that she was too much influenced by hangers-on wanting a piece of her. Her husband Blake Fielder, a feckless junkie, introduced her to hard drugs; a succession of ineffectual managers including Monte Lipman failed to shield her from the media; and her father came back into her life as someone more interested in making money than protecting his daughter. Kapadia's film suggests that perhaps her father was most at fault for his daughter's decline; in one sequence he brings a camera-crew to St. Lucia, thereby ruining Amy's attempts to enjoy some kind of peace away from the media.

Amy's troubled life is juxtaposed with performances of her greatest songs, whose lyrics are put on screen as she sings them. It's clear that she wrote from bitter experience; the only way she could make sense of it was to write about it. We get the sense that Amy performed first and foremost for herself.

Her untimely death at the age of twenty-seven remains something of a mystery. From the evidence presented in this film, we are left uncertain as to whether she took her own life or whether she died accidentally. Given the prison-like existence she led for the last five years of her life, culminating in the now-notorious occasion when she failed to perform at a Belgrade concert, it's tempting to think that she had had enough.

Few of her close associates come out with any credit as a result of this film. It's almost as if they wanted to exploit her, and when she died, they ascribed the tragedy to fate rather than admitting responsibility for it. This is especially true of Mitch.

The ending is almost unbearably poignant. It seems such a sad waste of a unique talent. Nonetheless at least we have her musical legacy in the form of her recordings, both live and in the studio.
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From Dedication to Destruction: Amy
s-2116727 September 2015
As the public we only see the picture that is given us, but Asif Kapadia's new movie, Amy, shows us the behind-the-scenes of extremely talented star Amy Winehouse. We catch glimpses of young teen Amy, smiling to the camera. We watch Amy enjoy making her music. We replay her breakthrough. And we see the horrific reality of the consequences of her fame, and the influence of the press. This masterpiece is an eye-opener and shows the truth behind the glamour of the red carpet.

Even though most people know the story of Amy, it has never been retold in this setting. Archive footage which makes the movie real, raw and honest. Commentary of people who have participated in Amy's life, and they tell the story as how they knew her, and not how the press thought they knew her. We get to know the fragile girl who "just wanted to be loved" and see her path towards her inevitable end, with participation of her destructive relationships as her absent father, her bad-influence husband and her addiction.

While we see the changes in Amy we see the changes in her music. Her music started off as a product of her personality, her smoky jazz, "I only write a song if it really means something to me" - Amy. But in the end her level of personality in songs has sunken just as much as her participation in shows. She couldn't handle the load up of all her personal problems and became only a mere shadow of the emotionally powerful chanteuse she once was. Her journey is an emotional roller-coaster of the bright Amy as we see her in the beginning of the movie and the addicted woman who just couldn't let go of heroin, ecstasy, cocaine and alcohol. They tried to make her go to rehab, but all she said was "No, no, no".

Although the emotional load up of this documentary is great, I do feel that it does show a selective side of the story. After I had seen the movie, I had the idea that everything that had come over Amy Winehouse was the result of her husband, parents, and the press. It is being presented as if Amy is a doomed angel because she is surrounded by the devil. This might be a peaceful thought for her close friends but I don't think it fully represents the truth.

But I am still amazed and overwhelmed by Amy's story and shocked how she went from the passionate and bright teenager she was, into a story about brilliance, depression, exploitation and addiction.

This movie is just as much as a worthy remembrance to Amy Winehouse as a representation of many celebrities who suffered from the pressure, the press and the fame-industry.

Mare P.
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What you could expect, decent summary of Winehouse's career and life
Horst_In_Translation15 September 2015
Warning: Spoilers
If you have seen Asif Kapadia's Formula-1-themed "Senna", you basically know what to expect here. This one is a pretty decent film from start to finish, very much by the books, but also with a couple surprisingly great moments. This film here does consist almost exclusively of archive footage and that's fairly impressive as it runs for over 2 hours. We see concert recordings and many recordings as well from Winehouse's husband that he made of the two. He really does look like one of the main forces of Winehouse's downfall and her falling deeper and deeper in this spiral of drugs and alcohol. But there are more reasons, like her tough relationship with her dad or the fact that she could not deal with stardom. This is an argument you hear frequently, but it may be true in her case. There is a scene when we hear that she is sick of singing her old really successful hits, but her struggles kept her from achieving new hits, so she is forced to sing the old ones and it seems as if this really shook her to the core.

The best thing about this film is, without a doubt, the music. No matter what opinion you have about Winehouse in terms of if she brought this on herself or is just a victim of the whole situation, there is no denying she was an absolutely outstanding artist and there are some mesmerizing recordings in here. This film is advertised with the notion that there is unseen material here, but I think this is generally a really pointless references as maybe nobody in the theater has seen all the old material, so it's fine there is unseen material in here, but nobody will perceive it as unseen. Anyway, if this documentary is eligible for Oscar consideration, I am sure it may make a deep run. It's very relevant, very contemporary and very well-made, even if moments of absolute greatness are very rare. One would be the ending when we see how she is dead and quickly afterward we see recordings of her when she was much younger and just a normal girl before her rise to stardom. Good job from Kapadia all in all and I recommend this film. A good tribute to a truly talented and very authentic artist. Thanks Amy for the music. Rest in peace.
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Sympathetic but ultimately superficial portrait
malcp17 July 2015
Warning: Spoilers
I hoped this would offer a more revealing insight into Amy's mental illness, but the problem with some types of mental illness is that people are so very good at hiding it. I guess what you do see here, in a way that for most people is hidden, is how much of your life for anyone with mental health issues is really just an act. For sure, thanks to her amazing talent, Amy's life was played out to a much wider audience and hence captured - often in excruciating detail by the camera, but by the end of the film, although I had a better idea of the chronology of events, I think it really exposed surprisingly little of Amy Winehouse and just what made her tick. Yes many people along the way did recognise her instability, but I think it was quite notable how the media seized on drug abuse, when this, bulimia and even the alcoholism that killed her were merely symptoms of much deeper problems. Inevitably, the roller-coaster of drug-abuse and recovery dominates the narrative of this film, but generally overlooks how much time and effort Amy must have spent on becoming the best Jazz singer on the planet and the amount of intellectual effort she required to achieve that feat and also to produce lyrics that were both sincere and interesting. I think she achieved that aim, but a 5 minute chat with her friend during the 2008 Grammy awards revealed just how superficial she found the achievement. Sadly despite her intelligence, she had a fairly closed mind to any form of psychological therapy, and despite a succession of boyfriends, doesn't appear from anything we see here to have found anyone who she trusted enough who was in any position to help her change direction. To my mind, she created a kind of comic book character for herself, only to find that despite massive international acclaim, it didn't mean the same thing to her. She gave a massive amount to charity, and clearly had a sincere perspective on a huge range of issues, sadly nobody in this film really talks to her about anything but "Amy Winehouse".
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Not an easy watch.
guyshankland16 July 2015
Warning: Spoilers
'Amy' (the film) highlights the obvious perils of pop music fame, sex, drugs, alcohol and every rock n roll cliché, with one main underlying current. No matter how great the person, how strong the voice, how catchy the songs, if the people closest to you aren't playing with a straight bat, you're in trouble. Alcohol and drugs played a massive part in Amy's demise, the film will also let you draw your own conclusions on who else was responsible and why she was allowed to get to such levels of addiction and despair before any real help was forthcoming. Watching 'Amy' is a macabre experience as you allow yourself to smile during her pre-headline innocent years. I find myself waiting for the dark days, not wanting to get attached to the upbeat teenage jazz singer smiling at me from the HD cinema screen. Early live footage reveals just what a talent in waiting AW was, young, confident, funny and a voice that could floor an elephant. But behind the scenes we learn of her bulimia, father Mitchell's infidelity, her mothers lack of control and how the pair's lack of any parental discipline molded her own life. Enter Blake Fielder-Civil, the love of her life, her dark inspiration. The relationship with Blake is laid out in all it's distressing glory. Blake confesses to introducing Amy to Crack, Coke and Heroin, a regular user himself before they paired up. Then he left her for his previous girlfriend, leaving Amy an emotional and physical wreck. Friends and managers begged her to go to Rehab, she left the final decision to her father, who said she didn't need it. A hit song was born and her life as we see, is ended. The missed window of opportunity of getting Amy into rehab early in her addictions proved a massive turning point in her life, personally and professionally. Chart success on both sides of the pond, reconciliation and marriage to Blake, Grammy's, artistic recognition and a house in Camden, for a time she thought she had everything she had ever wanted. Then the footage becomes harder to watch as Amy deteriorates. She becomes a Red top superstar, each disaster spread out for the nations titillation. If handled correctly Blake going to jail could have been the saving of her, for a time she was clean then plummeted. Footage of a one off concert in Serbia, (possibly the most ill advised trip since Hitler's winter invasion of Russia). Amy makes it on stage but refuses to sing, a drunk, stumbling, shambolic mess, it's not easy to watch. In fact it's utterly depressing. The films final shots of a body bag leaving her Camden home put a rotten cherry on this whiskey and coke soaked cake. Ultimately 'Amy' is a painfully insightful film, Blake and Mitchell may want to avoid it, they are (rightly or wrongly) cast as the villains, a pair of emotional and financial vampires. Their misplaced arrogance in interviews does nothing to help their cause. Amy Winehouse was one of the most original female artists this country has ever produced, period. She deserved, in life and love, better.

Guy Shankland 16/07/15
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In a nutshell...
jfreer-8874820 July 2015
After watching AMY, I left the theatre thinking more about the consequences of fame rather than just the "life of Amy Winehouse". A classic case of fame eating up a beautifully brilliantly gifted young woman who finally lost control of her life. I felt so terribly sad as her life unraveled yet listening to her sing was mesmerising and exhilarating. Such a waste and such a shame she couldn't be helped or saved. There is no doubt she was one of the most talented musicians of our century. The early footage of a 14 year old Amy singing with her girlfriends is priceless and there is no questioning that she was born with a gift... she couldn't be saved and fame came at the worst price. Go and see Amy just to understand how fame can go so horribly wrong...
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A very personal look at a lost treasure.
subxerogravity13 July 2015
Going into this documentary, I know very little about Amy Winehouse, past people making fun of her for her abuse problems. I feel robbed that this is what I knew first cause I just assumed she was some pop sensation and did not know anything about the music

But thanks to this doc, I got to hear what this girl could do. That's one of the best things about the doc is that it plays entire versus of her songs, while she was recording or performing and it would display the words on the screen like a sing-a-long.

We live in an age where everyone can document themselves and Amy is no different. The whole movie is just home footage of her mixed in with professional footage and layered with audio interviews from those who were truly close to her.

As someone who knew so little of Winehouse prior to this movie, I like to say with an even tone that the best part of the movie was the first half, as it goes through her personality, the beginning of her career and her climb to success. Once she got to the top, the movie gets boring. It's not like they ran out of footage of her, but they slowed down the pace of the film in an attempt to show you how tragic her death is, as if though we did not already know that.

But overall this movie made me want to go out and grab a copy of her albums so I can experience more of Amy, cause for the most part, it's completely focus on who she is as a singer, I'm sure she would love that.
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Too much troubled, not enough artist
estreet-eva20 July 2015
"We're all stars now in the Dope Show" - Marilyn Manson. Side notes: remember when we thought using a serial killer's name as your stage name was subversive? Now we know it just shows you were the product of a late middle age birth without many friends. A movie critic famously said of U2's "Rattle and Hum" movie that it contains too much rattle and not enough hum. The issue exists in this more streaming quality document but the problem is too much troubled and not enough artist. Through pieced together largely work-a-day home movies we are invited to gawk at the toll drugs and alcohol took on the woman who famously penned a song refusing to go to rehab (she actually eventually did). The piece makes the titular jazz singer into a freak like those found in denizens of old- timey carnivals (and perhaps modern day carnivals that sport a freak show) known as a "dope show." The movie obsesses in probing her emaciation, confusion and isolation. The movie makes much of the insatiable appetite of the paparazzi (there are so many scenes of Winehouse in the glare of flashbulbs, it gets to be an in-movie cliché after a while) to microscopically search for pain and degradation. But does the film do any less? As audience members we're just late to the party. All of the paraded outcomes of addiction strikes true chords but how about some research into how a kid from the London suburbs penned future standards such as "Love is Blind", "F Me Pumps" or "You Know I'm No Good." The wit and insight contained in the music makes you wonder - unless you are Asif Kapadia apparently - what source material or experience Winehouse was tapping at such a tender age. Also, what about putting her into a larger cultural context. Like Adele, Joss Stone and Meghan Trainor, modern audiences seems to be continue to be comfortable with a certain sound provided it comes with a certain look. Or as Kid Rock puts it: "I make Black music for the White man." As a side note, the film succeeds at making one wonder how 88 year old Tony Bennett could possible still sound so good. In short, this limited view of the artist has been covered - admittedly without the cell phone movies and as many interviews - already on streaming media. Look for those instead, at least you get a little music with them.
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Very disappointing
keenast19 March 2016
Besides that Amy was almost always under some influence we essentially learn nothing about her. Nothing about what made her fall for drugs and questionable boyfriends, nothing about what kind of relationship respectively non-relationship she had with her mother and her father - that is all brushed over.

We also learn nothing about how her career started. Suddenly she had a huge band on the stage with horns and what have you - how did that came about? What part of the music (if at all besides a few song) did she write? Why did she get a contract with this record company at an age where she was at best, well, talented.

The only thing we get shown over and over is her being a total train wreck - that's just not enough.
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