29 June 2018.
BLUE NOTE RECORDS – BEYOND THE NOTES ****
If you love music, especially jazz, this is your documentary. I couldn’t say it better than the blurb for the film: “A revelatory, thrilling and emotional journey behind the scenes of Blue Note Records, the pioneering label that gave voice to some of the finest jazz artists of the 20th and 21st centuries.”
With great detail and love for her subject, Swiss filmmaker Sophie Huber presents here an astounding panorama of artists who were brought to light by one of the founding labels of jazz music.
Created in 1939, Blue Note Records was the brainchild of two jazz enthusiasts, Alfred Lion and Francis Wolff, who had just come over to New York from pre-war Germany. Both amateurs in the business, they were passionate about the music, Lion dealing with the musicians throughout the years, and Wolff taking incredible photographs of them for posterity.
Huber reveals their dedication to the musicians and their label while interviewing many of the jazz artists themselves, along with vintage footage of sessions with the likes of Herbie Hancock, John Coltrane, Miles Davis and Nora Jones.
As mentioned before, this excellent documentary, which premiered at this year’s TriBeCa film festival in N.Y., is both emotional and philosophical besides being in the then, here and now of jazz. As one of the musicians mentions about jazz improvisation, “It’s having the courage to be vulnerable.”
SICARIO 2 (La guerre des cartels) ***
But if you’re looking for nerve-wracking tension and thrills, then this film about the Mexican drug cartels is for you.
Both Benicio del Toro and Josh Brolin are back in their roles as U.S. agents dealing with cross-border drug problems. Their connections with the highest levels of government in Washington with their blatant lies and cover ups, and with the poor immigrants trying to get into the U.S. are incredibly actual and intense. Meanwhile the audience is pulled into the fray with a pulsing soundtrack (by the Icelandic female cellist Hildur Guonadottir) that feels like another character in the film.
Tightly shot by Italian director Stefano Sollima who has taken over from Denis Villeneuve’s first Sicario, and written by Taylor Sheridan (of the brilliant “Hell and High Water”), this latest one stands on its own and lets you know that it will be going on to further chapters. It’s an intense ride!
Try to miss these two mediocrities:
LOVE, SIMON *1/2
For its stereotyped and maudlin take on the coming-out of a high school boy. Teenagers may love it…
For its excruciatingly boring (and again, maudlin) take on the miseries and difficulties of motherhood. Spare us.
And make sure you catch these outstanding films BEFORE they’re gone:
DAS SCHWEIGENDE KLASSENZIMMER **** (Les Scala)
POPE FRANCIS – A MAN OF HIS WORD **** (Les Scala)
THE GUERNSEY LITERARY SOCIETY…. **** (Balexert)
DREI TAGE IN QUIBERON **** (Bio, Carouge)
THE EXTRAORDINARY JOURNEY OF THE FAKIR *** (Balexert)
WHAT WILL PEOPLE SAY *** (Les Scala)
MALARIA *** (Grutli)
Superb **** Very Good *** Good ** Mediocre * Miserable – no stars
Neptune Ravar Ingwersen reviews film extensively for publications in Switzerland. She views 4 to 8 films a week and her aim is to sort the wheat from the chaff for readers.