20 Feet from Stardom 2013 (2013) Other movies recommended for you
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Plot: Backup singers live in a world that lies just beyond the spotlight. Their voices bring harmony to the biggest bands in popular music, but we've had no idea who these singers are or what lives they lead, until now. Runtime: 91 mins Release Date: 26 Jul 2013
This movie, simply just shows us how to live life. I am so happy to live in a time where the forgotten can be not only remembered, but celebrated and heard once again. A metaphor for all of us... We have to share our gifts, keep getting up when knocked down, and remember we can live until we are dead... I cannot wait to see what these ladies do with the rest of their lives and their careers. I am so happy to hear that some of them will have their catalogues re-released and even a sound track from the movie is going to be available soon. Glad to see The Weinstein company helping so that this <more>
Documentary can also be celebrated for the Oscar it is going to win next winter. Lisa Fisher and Darlene Love along with Tata Vega and Merry Clayton all carry this movie and then the very current struggle of the DIVA Currently struggling out of the back of the pack, Judith HIll are amazing.
the best music movie in years! Why the media ignores this kind of film (by zken-1)
If this film is not an example of what gets buried in our overloaded information society, I don't know what is. So here it goes--this is the film of the year on my list. But of course I am a music fanatic who always wondered about the role of background singers in the great rock bands. This movie answers that, and much more. Because as the film reveals, reading between the frames, the entire era of big production rock bands is probably over. That is news you will not find on the cover of Rolling Stone, but as the movie makes abundantly clear, the huge wave of rock has crashed on the shore <more>
and this movie is just one small piece of the music disaster. The film itself follows the careers of a number of anonymous and almost famous background singers, and their experiences are glamorous, thrilling and ultimately tragic. The one singer who rises from the fray is the fabulous Darlene Love. This is one film where walking out during the credits is a big mistake. The segments of the film with Mick Jagger are worth the entire price of admission. One last thought, try to see this film in a theater with a full house. I can't reveal all of it, but bring some tissue and remember that those days were sweet. And the memories are even sweeter. Why does the media ignore this kind of movie? It just is not a summer block buster advertising with full page ads,
Beautiful, fascinating, presents civil rights issues (by AEBarschall)
What I learn from this movie is that much of the most prominent pop and rock music that I have heard in recent years owes its sound to a fairly small group of black women who have never been credited, who earn substantially less than the white men who hire them, and who live in obscurity, just as this movie lives in obscurity.There are some male and white singers in this group, but they are mostly black women, who learned to sing in church and who typically improvise the harmonies they sing.The most musically moving moment was when Lisa, who I think they said has been the lead female vocalist <more>
in the Rolling Stones since 1989, improvised some harmony with four copies of herself singing. It was the most beautiful, ethereal sound that I can imagine. I wish they would do an album, or at least a single, just of that.They had some big name performers, like Stevie Wonder, Sting, and Mick Jagger, speaking and praising these women -- still you can be sure that the women weren't making anything like the money that those performers are making.They bring up the point of personality and its influence in the roles that people play in music. They say that some people prefer to sing harmony, while others prefer to be soloists. I would say of all these women that, perhaps, they lack a certain X-factor in how they present themselves, but they have lovely personalities -- definitely the kind of person who you would want to bring home with you.I am reminded of the words of Marian Wright Edelman. "There is no end to the good we can accomplish if we let someone else take the credit." Still I wish these women got more credit
A treat for the ears and an education in the music business (by mmonsor-1)
I had never heard of the performers, but have apparently enjoyed their contributions thousands of times. Praise to the producer and director for their headliner contributors. I saw the film at the Minneapolis - St Paul film festival. Merry Clayton came to the screening and sang for us after the showing. That girl still has the pipes. The story about her audition with the Rollings Stones was a hoot. The soundtrack is wonderful. Lisa Fischer has an amazing voice - blew my socks off. Hope the movie comes to a theater near me, so I can hear it again. I thought the director did a wonderful job of <more>
balancing the contributions of the headliners with the life stories of the singers. It was a treat to hear them do their thing out in the spotlight.
Great documentary about not quite making the top (by miffedone)
There are some people who toil anonymously in the music business: session musicians, recording engineers, producers and so on. And then there are the backup singers. Many of those, probably most dream of being out front, becoming a star, and gaining worldwide fame, applause, respect.For most, it doesn't happen. Once in a while somebody breaks through: Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Elton John, Barry Manilow, Sheryl Crowe, Phil Collins. More often, it's a day job, and they are called for sessions, sing their part and go home. Sometimes they will be a permanent part of the act, like the <more>
Raylettes with Ray Charles, but they don't get the big rewards the upfront star does.Such is the story of "20 Feet From Stardom", where we meet a half dozen or more who have had a career in the back light, occasionally getting the break to record their own album, and then ... nothing. Darlene Love was the voice of the Crystals, except Phil Spector kept slapping somebody else's name on her recordings and she got nothing. She ended up cleaning houses for a living. But two years ago, in much belated recognition, she was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Merry Clayton is another; she's the haunting female lead on the Stones "Gimme Shelter", but as a solo artist she just never took off.It's a well constructed film, and if a bit indulgent here or there, it's just a matter of choice in the editing booth, not a failure of the director to deliver.If you have any interest in the music industry, or have ever thought of a career as a singer, this is a great lesson on the realities of that business. This would also apply to acting, where "That Guy" did a similar riff on that equally competitive business.Of course it's worth noting that while there are lots of people "20 Feet from Stardom", there are legions more who never even get that close, and who wind up singing in saloons, street corners, and even subway stops. It's a tough world out there. "20 Feet From Stardom" picks a point closer to the pinnacle, but not quite, and that's what makes it interesting.
This film is highly recommended.Midway through Morgan Neville's riveting new documentary about the world of backup singers, Twenty Feet from Stardom, music legend Sting comments that the most important factors needed for success, more so than talent, are luck and timing. That sage comment is the crux of this thoroughly entertaining film.We meet a series of talented vocalists, mostly unknowns who contributed to many hit recordings of the past songs like Gimme Shelter, Walk on the Wild Side, Young Americans, What'd I Say, and Sweet Home Alabama . We learn about their journey for fame <more>
and fortune and its high cost. Many edge their way toward the spotlight only to somehow lose sight of that elusive goal. Twenty Feet from Stardom honestly tells their life stories. Most end unhappily, some are more fortunate. All are thoroughly engrossing studies of blind ambition or in some cases, the lack thereof and the singer's personal need to share their vocal gift with others.These background singers are a remarkable bunch of gifted performers, many of which go unrecognized by the general public, including myself. Names like Merry Clayton, Lisa Fischer, Judith Hill, the Waters Family, Claudia Lennear, Mabel John, Stevvi Alexander, Jo Lawry, and Tata Vega are bantered about. We witness these gifted women and their incredible high- reaching vocal range. This documentary gives the moviegoer a front row seat. It's must-see viewing.Their individual journeys are fascinating and varied. We learn that some of these session singers leave the music industry to start other careers while others still languish in the music business waiting for their next gig. One singer ends up posing for Playboy while another finds a religious calling. One even wins a Grammy Award for Best Female R&B Artist for her debut album, only to find that her fame evaporate until her next recording. Probably the best known of these talents is Darlene Love who tells her tragic tale of the Svengali-like Phil Spector and his malicious control over her career. Love poignantly admits that watching other performers lip-syncing to her voice and losing her musical identity in the process became too much for her to handle. We then actually see the footage of that act in question. Sometimes the film overstates its message and becomes a bit redundant. But the filmmakers have culled extraordinary performances, both then and now. Neville builds his story with rare archival footage of these singers in performances from the sixties to present day and he masterfully incorporates strong imagery throughout the many interviews with established stars like Bruce Springstein, Stevie Wonder, Patti Austin, Chris Botti, Bette Midler, Mike Jagger, and the aforementioned Sting. These stars truly appreciate the genuine talent of these women and the musical contributions they bought to their mega-recordings. Twenty Feet from Stardom creates a visual and auditory record of these great soul singers and may help them one day gain the recognition they deserve. Let's hope filmmaker Neville doesn't need luck and timing on his side either until his next film. He is a real talent to watch and his film is a joy to be heard. I will eagerly wait for the soundtrack. GRADE: B+ANY COMMENTS: Please contact me at: [email protected]
Greetings again from the darkness. "And the colored girls go do doo doo, do doo ...". The controversial lyrics from Lou Reed's "Walk on the Wild Side" kick off this exceptional documentary about the oft-ignored back-up singers who have played and continue to play a huge role in some of the biggest songs of all-time. You may not know their names, but you have undoubtedly sung along with them while driving or taking a shower.Director Morgan Neville has a credit list filled with music shorts and documentaries. One of my personal favorites of his is The American Masters <more>
on Muddy Waters. I recalled that while watching this one because Neville does a nice job of connecting the dots from Gospel, Blues and Soul to the roots of Rock and Roll. The main women featured here all admit to being daughters of preachers, and fine-tuning their ability to harmonize during their youth while singing in the church choir.Most of the interview time and insight comes from Darlene Love, Lisa Fischer, and Merry Clayton. You may not recognize the names or faces, but you will surely recognize the voices. Ms. Love has been elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and may be best known thanks to her annual appearance on the David Letterman Show at Christmas. Ms. Fischer is the most frequent worker today of the three as she tours with Chris Botti, Sting and The Rolling Stones. However, the heart-stopping climax of the film belongs to Merry Clayton, as we are treated to her isolated vocals from the master on her infamous performance on the single "Gimme Shelter". Hearing her raw voice blast out "Rape. Murder. It's just a shot away" is both exhilarating and gut-wrenching. To hear her tell the story is mesmerizing. One of my favorite movie moments ever.While we see and hear the personal stories filled with frustration and regrets, we also see an inherent love of music and the appreciation for their particular gift. We also hear from Tata Vega, Dr. Mabel John a former Raelette for Ray Charles , and Claudia Lennear. With many similar stories of their quest for solo careers, we get the contemporary version with Judith Hill, a twenty-something working back-up today as she strives for a solo career. The parallels are obvious with her older peers.Another excellent feature of the film comes in the form of interviews from the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Sting, Stevie Wonder, Lou Adler, Chris Botti, and Mick Jagger. We also see some studio shots featuring Phil Spector once the hottest music producer, now incarcerated , and concert footage of Talking Heads, Ray Charles, The Rolling Stones, and the Concert for Bangladesh. It's especially fitting to see Luther Vandross as a back-up singer to David Bowie's "Young Americans", and to hear from Sheryl Crow, who worked as Michael Jackson's back-up/lead female. These are the examples of the back-ups who successfully made the walk.My only minor quibble with the film is structural, not content. Neville has an over-whelming task of addressing each of the individual stories, while also relating it to the nasty and unfair music business, the Civil Rights movement, the development of Rock and Roll, and the role that "talent" plays in what Springsteen terms the "complicated" walk from back-up to lead singer the titular 20 feet . The segment focusing on Merry Clayton's role in Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Sweet Home Alabama" is especially poignant. Overall this film is fascinating and entertaining, and makes a great companion piece to Standing in the Shadows of Motown 2002 and Muscle Shoals 2013 .
My review is probably a bit different from other reviews for this film because I have actually seen and reviewed ALL the nominees for Best Feature Documentary--so I can compare this film to the other films running against it. As of this date, however, the Oscar winners have not been named--so my prediction of the final winner could easily be wrong! "20 Feet From Stardom" is an interesting film. It is also enjoyable finally seeing all these famous background singers and hear their stories. And, it's clearly a work of love--of the filmmakers as well as the stars who appear in the <more>
film and sing their praises such as Bruce Springsteen, Sting and Mick Jagger . Together, they all work to make a very memorable and enjoyable film from start to finish.Now the ultimate questions are will it win and does it deserve to win. For me, I don't think it will win but it is clearly a contender. "The Square" and possibly "The Act of Killing" are the odd-on favorites but it runs a close third. I don't think "Cutie and the Boxer" or "Dirty War" are in the running. But of course, I have been wrong many times. Does it deserve to win? Well that depends on what you think are the main criteria for an award-winning documentary. If you are talking about technical competence and professionalism, this film might be the best. But, it also takes no risk--and often documentaries are judged, in a large part, by the risks they take--risk in the sort of subject matter but more importantly, risk to the life of the filmmaker. For this, "The Square" is clearly in a class by itself as they could have gotten killed making this film. I'd pick "The Square" but this in no way means "20 Feet From Stardom" is not a very worthy and well made film. Well worth seeing and WOW do some of these folks have amazing voices.By the way, while I watched this film, I really think what stuck out for me at times what what WASN'T said--such as the one lady's feelings about Phil Spector or how some of them feel about never achieving stardom. You'd really love to talk to them one-on-one to get the entire story.
Dedicated to all those who stand in the background and wait! (by graupepillard)
What does it feel like to be 20 feet from stardom? Ask me – I am a visual artist who is familiar with the waves that crest and then come crashing down. Oh yes the fickleness of nature and the vicissitudes of acclaim, glory and celebrity! 20 FEET FROM STARDOM directed by Morgan Neville gives us the back-story on the back-up singers for many superstars from the 1960's to today. This film focuses on the mostly African American women who gave depth, sparkle, glamour with style and swagger, and musical resonance to the performances of Ray Charles, Ike and Tina Turner, Mick Jagger and The <more>
Rolling Stones, Stevie Wonder, Bruce Springsteen, Luther Vandross, Sting, and David Bowie among others. But who are these women? Do we even know their names?The documentary, 20 FEET FROM STARDOM introduces them to us by giving a NAME to the voices – giving a life story to those who have been blotted out. We are made privy to often exciting, exhilarating and heart-breaking narratives through archival film footage and biographical accounts that divulge the years of hard work these professionals endured honing their craft. And we see them today revealing the alterations that time doth inflict on us all. In the early years, many of these gorgeous singers were "scenery" for the guys up front OOOhing and AAAhing in perfect harmony, wearing tight clothes that accentuated shaking, fluid hips while they bellowed out an orchestrated range of tones "behind" the Maestro. But they were much more than "eye candy" – they were integral to the fire and spirit that drove the audiences into a frenzied state at jam-packed concerts.Each one of these women has a history – a long history with the world of music and the artists that they have been associated with. We meet Claudia Lennear, Darlene Love, Merry Clayton, Lisa Fischer, Táta Vega, Judith Hill and the Waters Family, etc, as well as Sheryl Crow who sang back-up for Michael Jackson early in her career We get glimpses of how these individuals were treated, ie: Darlene Love by Phil Spector who would not let her out of her contract and stalled her career for years. In contrast, Luther Vandross was incredibly generous to those who worked with him such as Brooklyn born, Lisa Fischer who I was particularly attracted to. She garnered the respect and admiration of those who worked with her, and to this day at the age of 55 shares lead vocals with Mick Jagger and is still singing back-up on all the Rolling Stones tours. Fischer has a beautiful smile, a wonderful, natural and hopeful way of talking about her experiences. Yes she and her voice got to me!Personal reminiscences, life dramas and struggles are delineated. Each woman has forged her own path; each woman has had her ups and downs. Success is ephemeral and the most penetrating thing that they can do for themselves is to sing loud and clear, giving expression to the intensity and breadth of the joy and sorrow that springs from one's inner, profound self.As an artist I try to remind myself of this everyday.