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Posts Tagged ‘concert films’

Madonna: Truth or Dare

Tuesday, May 11th, 2021

May 10, 1991

There were several movies in the summer of ’91 that were major pop culture events, widely discussed, referenced, parodied. One of them, surprisingly, was a music documentary shot mostly in 16mm black and white.

Or really more of a tour documentary than a music documentary. One thing that’s unusual about MADONNA: TRUTH OR DARE is that it’s entirely about its subject being a performer, a troupe leader, and a celebrity, and not at all about her music, or even the creation of her show.

The Blond Ambition World Tour was not a normal concert – it was more like an extravagant stage musical. On the four month, 57-show tour from Chiba, Japan to Nice, France, Madonna promoted her 1989 album Like a Prayer and 1990 DICK TRACY tie-in I’m Breathless, backed by seven dancers, two backup singers, an eight-piece band and a $2 million, 80 x 70 foot stage set that was hauled in 18 trucks and set up by over 100 crew members. Every song we see in the movie has its own backdrop, wardrobe (by the fashion designer Jean-Paul Gaultier – or, as we know him, the guy who did the costumes for THE FIFTH ELEMENT – who Madonna recruited in 1989 by sending him a nice letter) and complex choreography. When the movie begins they already seem like old pros at performing it. If there’s drama about something going wrong it’s not any of them messing up. It’s the sound system or the weather. (read the rest of this shit…)

Soul Power

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

tn_soulpower
Soul Power is one of the first documentaries to show a shirtless Bill Withers having lunch with Muhammad Ali and Don King in Africa

SOUL POWER is kind of like a prequel to a favorite documentary of mine, WHEN WE WERE KINGS. Remember how there was that music festival at the Rumble in the Jungle, it was supposed to be the same week as the fight, but Foreman cut his eye and the fight got delayed? Well, they were shooting footage of the festival too, so here’s a separate movie about that.

The star of the show is James Brown (with mustache). Also on the bill are Bill Withers, The Crusaders, The Spinners, B.B. King, Celia Cruz, Miriam Makeba and some African musicians.  The movie shows about 1 song per performer, but it’s also about setting up the show. There is priceless footage of a party held back in the states before they all leave for Zaire, James Brown making a speech and everything. On the plane they’re all singing and playing guitars, drums and flutes. I didn’t notice JB or any of the big icons during these scenes, but it’s still amazing to see a plane full of people having so much fun. Then when they arrive there’s a ceremony set up for their arrival. The highlight is the huge smile on Muhammad Ali’s face when he goes up to shake JB’s hand. (read the rest of this shit…)

This Is It

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

tn_thisisitAs a Michael Jackson fan who stuck with him in the later years, I was always dreaming about the comeback he could have some day. I never really believed in my heart that I’d get a chance to see him live, but maybe on DVD. I was so excited for those 50 shows he was gonna do in London, and nervous about what would happen if he wasn’t feeling up to it. There are still a million lingering frustrations about all the possibilities that were cut off when Michael died four months ago. But one of the more dramatic ones was this series of shows he called This Is It. He was so close. And we’ll never get to see the exclamation point on the end of that sentence.

So as a fan it’s a comfort and a blessing to see this almost-concert movie made up of footage taken during his rehearsals in Los Angeles. I mean, I would’ve loved to have seen this even if he hadn’t died, but as the rough draft to his last ambition it takes on extra importance. (read the rest of this shit…)