It was screened out of competition at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival. See more »
There were times when I would look up to God and I'd go, "Why is this happening to me?" And then these dreams... I'd have these dreams about being on a bridge and the bridge going back and forth and swaying. There's a big storm coming... I'm always running from this giant. I'm always running from this big man. I know I can make it. I know I can make it. I know I can make it. My mother always says, "Oh, you know, that's nothin' but the devil; he's just trying to get you. He just ...
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Wistful look at the life and times of Whitney Houston
"Whitney" (2018 release; 120 min.) is a bio-documentary about the life and times of singer Whitney Houston. As the movie opens, we see news clips as her 1985 debut album is storming the charts and making her a mega-star. We then go back to Whitney's humble upbringing in Newark, NJ, and get to know her parents (remember that her mom Cissy Houston was a singer in her own right), and her 2 brothers. Music played a major role in Whitney's life from early on, particularly attending the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark. Her mom did not go easy on Whitney, simply wanting to prepare her for "legacy music", and when Whitney turns 18, she moves out. At this point we're 10 min. into the movie, and you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.
Couple of comments: this is the latest movie from Scottish writer-director Kevin Macdonald, who's made several other music documentaries including "Marley" (on Bob Marley) and "Being Mick" (that would be Jagger). Here he brings, with full cooperation of the Houston estate, the life and times of amazing singer Whitney Houston. Because he has full access to footage, we get to see a number of home clips previously unseen (and at times very revealing). Macdonald interviews many people who knew Whitney well or were close to her (as, say, bodyguard). Comments someone: "A lot of people around her saw her like an ATM", wow. Yes, even no-good Bobby Brown gets screen time. When asked to comment on Whitney's drug use in the last years of her life, Brown, without the least of irony or regret, responds "I'm not answering that. Drugs have nothing to do with this documentary". Nice one! In fact the last hour of the documentary detail the sad (and drug-fueled) decline of Whitney. Some of those scenes are heartbreaking, frankly. The parallels between this documentary and the "Amy" documentary a few years ago on Amy Winehouse are pretty obvious: the use of the singer's first name for the documentary's title, the questionable role of the respective dads, the respective "bad" boyfriend/husband, the cringe-inducing last tour (for Whitney in 2009), etc. etc. "Whitney" is strong documentary, no question, but in my view "Amy" was a tad better (perhaps because I like Amy's music better). The talent that Whitney had was undeniable (that voice!), even though some of those 80s songs have not aged well. But the waste of that talent makes the passing of Whitney only sadder.
"Whitney" premiered at this year's Cannes film festival to great buzz, and opened this weekend in 4 or 5 screens in Greater Cincinnati. The Sunday early evening screening where I saw this at was attended nicely (and primarily by African-Americans I might add). If you are a fan of Whitney Houston, or music history in general, I'd readily suggest you check this out, be it in the theater, on VOD, or eventually on DVD/Blu-ray, and draw your own conclusion.
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