Hoping that self-employment through gig economy can solve their financial woes, a hard-up UK delivery driver and his wife struggling to raise a family end up trapped in the vicious circle of this modern-day form of labour exploitation.
A married couple is forced to reckon with their idealized image of their son, adopted from war-torn Eritrea, after an alarming discovery by a devoted high school teacher threatens his status as an all-star student.
Director Sydney Pollack was totally inexperienced in shooting music documentary and shot without clapper boards snapping shut at the beginning of each take to help synchronize sound and picture in post-production. As a result of this mistake, even after months of work by experts, the 20 hours of footage couldn't be synchronized with the audio tracks. The choir director from the Watts recordings was brought in to try to lip-read the reels, but after months of work, only about 150 minutes of footage had been matched with sound, none of it adding up to a complete, useable song. Deadlines passed as the "Amazing Grace" album came out in June 1972, selling millions with no synergy. In August, Warner Bros. officially wrote off and shelved the movie. Pollack never gave up on the project, but constantly had other commitments. In 2007, dying of cancer, Pollack finally handed the documentary project over to producer and music enthusiast Alan Elliott. See more »
The film concludes with a 1972-era Warner Bros. ending card, even though WB technically no longer has any ties to the film, to suggest how it would have played out had the project been completed and released when initially intended. See more »
For two nights in January of 1972, Aretha Franklin recorded her "Amazing Grace" gospel album in the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles. In this documentary, the viewer sees the details of the recording which was accompanied by the Reverend James Cleveland (also a musical artist), local musicians and choir singers, and a live congregation audience.
The period that began in the mid-1960s and ended some time in the 1980s was among the best eras for American entertainment. "Amazing Grace" and the Amazing Aretha prove the point further and up the ante. Add to that one of the greatest forms of music: African-American gospel.
I do know that I was conscious every moment of watching this film yet I was so exhilarated by Franklin's singing that it sometimes felt like I was in some kind of a trance. If it is like this for someone watching it on film over four decades later, what must it have been like to witness it live? And of course, what is it like to have such amazing talent and project it so stunningly?
The close-ups help a bit to understand that last question. Among the beads of sweat, it is spellbinding to see Franklin's shining eyes and glittering face as she belts out high notes. Regardless of whether or not one is a believer, the creation of this concert recording and the great talent at its centre are ample proof that a higher spirit does drop in on our crazy planet every now and then.
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