20 FEET FROM STARDOM (2013)

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ACADEMY AWARD NOMINATION:

  • Best Documentary Feature

Elizabeth

I didn’t think 20 Feet From Stardom was that great, mostly because it seemed to suffer from a lack of direction, which I feel like might be one of the hardest parts of constructing a documentary in the first place.

It’s about the history of back-up singers in pop and rock music, but it loses focus pretty quickly. It follows certain singers particularly closely and others not so much, which made it hard to follow who was whom. It jumps around a bit from older back-up singers to current back-up singers, which also made it hard to follow. The tone was also sort of confusing; it never seemed clear to me how we were supposed to feel about the state of back-up singers. Are we supposed to feel sorry for them that they’re in the background? Happy for them that they can make a career doing what they love? No clue!

There was a lot of cool archival performance footage and some of the stories were interesting, but in general this movie wasn’t very compelling.

Christopher

I had really wanted this to be a cool documentary about these women who brought so much life and power to famous songs thought the 20th century, but unfortunately this documentary is a complete mess. The subject of this film is way too broad and because of this it made this movie feel all over the place. I think it would have been beneficial if they had only focused on Darlene Love.  The best part about this movie is the archival footage and interesting stories some of the women have. Like one of the women, who is now a Spanish teacher in some small town, used to sleep around with Mick Jagger?!?1 That’s incredible and I wonder if her students knew that before this film.

This movie was not good but there is interesting stuff in it. I just really dislike documentaries with no real narrative. Cutie and the Boxer was so great because there was a clear climax. This documentary just didn’t really know what it was doing, which is disappointing.

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