RHODY LIFE

AT THE AVON

Posted 8/18/21

AT THE AVON

AILEY * * * ½ (Alvin Ailey Documentary)

The Alvin Ailey American Dance Ensemble is world renowned for their innovative modern dance choreography.

We had the pleasure of …

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RHODY LIFE

AT THE AVON

Posted

AILEY

* * * ½

(Alvin Ailey Documentary)

The Alvin Ailey American Dance Ensemble is world renowned for their innovative modern dance choreography.

We had the pleasure of seeing them a few years ago at Rhode Island College, and marveled in their brilliant interpretation of a variety of themes developed by this brilliant choreographer.

“Ailey” is the story of his life and work, told through the “talking heads” of artists who had worked with him over his career.

Ailey was a very private man. Every person interviewed admitted that they never felt close to him, but understood him through his works.

We learned that he was born and raised dirt poor in the South by a single mother and came to New York City to be a dancer.

Ailey found salvation through dancing, eventually starting his own company and choreographing dances that reflected his own experiences.

We are treated to a number of excerpts from those dances, watching his growth from early spirituals to more modern interpretations of the Black experience.

We hear his voice through many of the archival footage, most in black and white, including the mesmerizing “Reflections”.

If you are a fan of modern dance, you can’t miss the film.

I would have liked to know more about the man, but he only revealed himself through his work.

WARWICK SHOWCASE

RESPECT

* * * ½

(Aretha Franklin Biopic)

Jennifer Hudson is the main reason to watch this uneven Aretha Franklin biopic.

If you were a fan of the great jazz/blues/gospel singer, don’t miss this salute to her music by one of the best singer/actors on the scene today.

The film focuses on the Queen of Soul’s early years, growing up in a motherless family, with a stern, cheating, minister father (Forest Whittaker). Franklin survives sexual abuse by a relative, physical and mental abuse by her husband (Marlon Wayans), mismanagement, alcoholism and mental illness to become a leader not only in her music, but in the civil rights movement.

The editing is choppy and the narrative dwells too long on some things, while not explaining others, like where and when all these children come from.

We learn that she was a close friend of Martin Luther King and was devastated by his assassination.

We learn about the conflicts with her husband and another man “saving” her, but it is never clear when, who and how.

Her life after the seventies, when she is only 29, is flashed on the screen so rapidly you can hardly catch the details.

In spite of all that, the music still reigns, as she records her famous gospel album. You will get goosebumps as you watch and hear Hudson interpret Franklin’s recording of “Amazing Grace”.

movies, cinema, film

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