Amazing Grace

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Wick's Review

Created Apr 28, 2019 07:27PM PST • Edited Apr 28, 2019 11:24PM PST

  1. Quality
  2. Really Great 4.5

    Aretha Franklin was never even that close to being one of my favorite singers. There, I’ve said it.
    Diana Ross, Nina Simone & Mavis Staples all found more favor with me than did the Queen of Soul.

    That’s now changed. I’ve seen the light, heard the voice. Amazing Grace does that to a man. It’s a glistening time machine brimming with musical brilliance the likes of which comes along once a century.

    Sydney Pollack filmed it in 1972 but failed to use a “a clapperboard to synchronize the picture and sound at the beginning of each take. The film ended up in the studio vaults for over 38 years. Before Pollack’s death in 2008, he turned the footage over to producer Alan Elliott, who after two years succeeded in synchronizing the picture and sound and completing the film,” per The Hollywood Reporter via Wikipedia.

    The film documents the recording of Aretha’s double-platinum gospel album Amazing Grace. WOW! WOW! WOW! The purity and depth of the artistry is simply jaw-dropping and awe-inspiring.

    Every song is an Aretha song. Yet most are traditional gospel songs, while some are signature songs of major artists like Carole King and Simon & Garfunkel. From the Jewish duo from Queens, she converts Bridge Over Troubled Water from a humanist hymn into a Jesus-loving gospel wonder. Holy cow!

    Resurrected half a century after its documentary event occurred, Amazing Grace is artistically, sociologically and spiritually important. Gospel music is a core American art form; this is its apotheosis.

    Why then was I alone at CinéArts Santana Row? The smart people of San Jose know not what they do.

  3. Perfect 5.0

    Aretha Franklin is the Steph Curry of singers: no one has ever been greater than them doing what they do. She’s also an amazing piano player. Vocally, her ability to stretch out words and notes – and then play with them – gives her a uniquely brilliant phrasing that leaves other great stylists in the shade.

    Sinatra musta wished he could own a song as well as Aretha.
    There is no higher praise.

    In The House
    • Mick & Charlie were at church, with Jagger clearly under the spell of Aretha’s gorgeous gospel.
    • The Reverend James Cleveland was her gospel soulmate. Their interplay is a thing of wonder.
    • The Southern California Community Choir vivaciously backs her up and gets an opening number.
    • The Reverend C.L. Franklin – Aretha’s august father – traveled from Detroit to L.A. to speak a bit.
    • Reverend Dr. Alexander Hamilton leads the choir with great funk and verve.
    • Sydney Pollack moves around arranging camera angles.
  4. Male Stars Perfect 5.0
  5. Female Stars Perfect 5.0
  6. Female Costars Perfect 5.0
  7. Male Costars Perfect 5.0
  8. Great 4.0

    Amazing Grace moves at a stately pace, notwithstanding several rousing numbers.
    Stately? Some will say slow. But you’d have to miss the artistry and soul to say that.

  9. Direction Great 4.0
  10. Play Good 3.0
  11. Music Perfect 5.0
  12. Visuals Perfect 5.0
  13. Content
  14. Tame 1.0
  15. Sex Innocent 1.0
  16. Violence Gentle 1.0
  17. Rudeness Polite 1.0
  18. Natural 1.0

    Several historical and sociological realities are enlightened by Amazing Grace, the documentary.

    Here’s one: A huge picture of Jesus hung high above the pulpit where Aretha & the Reverend James Cleveland made glorious music at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles, California.

    Jesus with blond hair and blue eyes wades through holy water, hands outstretched, ready for gospel music.

    This was in 1972. Should 2019 people castigate that choice of art? I think not.

  19. Circumstantial Natural 1.0
  20. Biological Natural 1.0
  21. Physical Natural 1.0

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