A Relaxing Bath of Music: “Pavarotti” the Doc

Bless Ron Howard, man has this guy come such a long dirt road from whistling with Andy Griffith. Bravo on another fine music documentary, this time on the late great Pavarotti.

Even if you don’t like opera, you’ll love this doc. You just have to hang in there for the first 15 minutes which are a little opera heavy, but that’s allowed especially for aficionados.

What’s enchanting about his life story (and really with the help of a great storyteller or ‘framer’**, Howard here, Scorsese with Rolling Thunder Revue isn’t everyone’s story enchanting? Ok, maybe not Manson.) is his joie de vivre, a substance not found in the Maria Callas doc. But to Tom Volf’s defense, perhaps she was just too damn depressed to find it. **Props to the writers who helped Howard, Cassidy Hartmann and Mark Monroe.

In any case Luciano had enough joy for two lives. Now was he always moral in the Catholic tradition? No, but, he sure gave himself to friends and charity.

I loved his passion for wanting to perform with Bono and U2, his empathy for children with cancer and war atrocities and his friendship with Lady Diana.

My day began with Hitchcock’s “Shadow of a Doubt” (thank you Burns Court for the Breakfast Movie Treat) with its wry humor and intrigue and ended being almost sung to sleep by “Pavarotti”. Now, that’s a damn near perfect day. (Picture me walking off whistling holding hands with Andy. LOL. Ok maybe don’t.:)

You Say You Want a Revolution: Snowden and Howard’s Beatle Doc.

Oliver Stone

I took in two equally solid movies this past week, both by famous directors.

First, Oliver Stone’s Snowden which I was lucky enough to see opening night including a talk back with the Stone, the actors, and most importantly, Edward Snowden via satellite. I have not read the reviews yet, not liking to be tainted by the critics, but I did see the percentage number was right around 60%, much too low of a mark.

I can guess the problems were: Shailene Woodley’s bad wig, lack of chemistry between Gordon-Levitt and Woodley, and most problematic, the evil ‘big brother’ NSA boss ridiculously histrionic performance. Sorry Patrick Joseph Byrnes, you sounded like a bad Clint Eastwood, doing the raspy, ‘make my day’.

Beyond that, the film showed an accurate depiction of the documentary CitizenFour, and filled in the back story that the documentary could not address. Gordon-Levitt is a wonder, making you forget he’s an actor. The story also is alarming as to how much technology has taken over our lives.

The real Snowden was so well spoken, I really believe he simply has an exceptionally high moral compass. The fact that he does not dare to come back to the U.S. also speaks to how far we have fallen from our founding fathers democratic principles in regard to due process.

Ron Howard’s The Beatles 8 Days a Week is just adorable, as cute as Opie’s little cheeks in the Andy Griffith Show. I was concerned from the description that the doc would get mired in the days before fame, that while interesting, doesn’t compare to the years of genius. But luckily, the doc’s focus was how under the microscope, the foursome felt confined to pop music, and that not until they disconnected from the ‘machine’ did they break through with truly original sounds. This is not to discount in anyway their younger songwriting gems, but simply to marvel at how they evolved into grown men with different influences. Simply to witness the half hour rooftop concert at the end of the doc, is well worth the price of admission. Great job Ron Howard!