And the Oscar Goes To… Not a Clue

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Review: PINK: All I Know So Far

“I’m comin’ up so you better get this party started.” Oh yeah, okay. I do know some PINK music!

PINK: All I Know So Far was smart to start with that concert performance snippet to draw me into the story of a popstar I don’t know much about, though I was generally familiar with her music, her flair and of course her hair. The documentary takes us behind the scenes of Pink’s record-breaking 2019 “Beautiful Trauma” world tour as she juggles being a mom, a performer, and a boss. For the most part, it’s typical concert documentary fare (see: recent docs Billie Eilish and The Boy From Medellin). And, for the most part, it does what it was obviously meant to do –making Pink more relatable as a person, sans makeup and all, even when holed up in a high-end suite overlooking the canals of Amsterdam with her hubby and two young kids in tow.

Review: Los Hermanos/The Brothers

At the center of this wonderful musical documentary are Ilmar and Aldo López-Gavilán, musician brothers separated for much of their lives by US-Cuban politics. Ilmar left Cuba at the age of 14 to study in the USSR and never went back. His younger brother Aldo stayed behind, and with just a brief stint in a London conservatory, became a world class musician through the Cuban system. Seeing one another was difficult over the years as Ilmar ended up living in the US, and our government made visiting all but impossible for decades. Los Hermanos/The Brothers chronicles their reunion and their attempts to record together starting in 2016 and follows them as Obama loosens the restrictions so allowing Aldo to come to the States and tour with his brother. It’s a beautifully moving film with fabulous music.

Quickie Review: The Boy From Medellin

The Boy From Medellin is a documentary about a Colombian reggaeton superstar who I must confess I’d never heard of. Not really my jam (I had to look up ‘reggaeton’). So I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that this documentary is most likely to appeal to the fan base of its Latin Grammy-winning star, Jose Alvaro Osorio Balvin, aka J Balvin. The film was shot over one week leading up to a highly-anticipated sold-out stadium show in Balvin’s hometown of Medellin. It turned out to be a pivotal week for Balvin — and his country — as the “Latin Spring” spread into Colombia, bringing a wave of anti-government protests into the streets.

Review: Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry

Billie Eilish (aka Billie Eilish Pirate Baird O’Connell) first came to the music world’s attention in 2015 when the teenager uploaded her song “Ocean Eyes” to Soundcloud. But she didn’t capture my attention – or the cultural zeitgeist in general until she – of the green hair, baggy clothes and producer brother Finneas – swept the Grammys in 2020. Those two seminal moments bookend the new documentary about the quirky and talented singer-songwriter, now all of 19.

Review: The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart

This HBO documentary wasn’t even on my radar until friends of my particular generation started raving about it on Facebook. So I felt inclined to check it out. And I’m glad I did. The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart explores the surprisingly interesting history of the group that basically invented a new form of Disco with their hit soundtrack for Saturday Night Fever – before the genre nearly killed them. Remember Disco Duck? Not their fault.

Review: Sound of Metal

At first, Sound of Metal reminded me of Whiplash. Then, A Quiet Place. And then, Children of a Lesser God. That’s quite a unique blend; and Sound of Metal is quite a unique film. It’s about a punk-metal drummer named Ruben (Riz Ahmed, Nightcrawler) who loses his hearing, and with it, his sense of self. As a recovering heroin addict, four years clean, the experience threatens to send Ruben back down that dark path, so his girlfriend/bandmate Lou (Olivia Cooke, Me and Early and the Dying Girl) encourages him to check into a secluded rehab facility for deaf addicts. There, he meets Joe (Paul Racie), the program director and rules czar who assigns a scared and skeptical Ruben one job: to learn how to be deaf.

Review: Bruce Springsteen’s Letter to You

Letter to You is a must-see documentary for fans of the Boss, and a should-see documentary for everyone else! The man – and the music- are simply mesmerizing. Perhaps I’m a tad biased, having spent a small fortune pre-pandemic to see Springsteen on Broadway (twice). But I can honestly say I enjoyed this documentary more than the filmed version of the stage show and more than last year’s cinematic filmed version of his melancholy album Western Stars

Review: Bill & Ted Face the Music

Talk about raising the stakes! In 1989, Bill & Ted – informed by a visitor from the future that they were destined for musical greatness – went on a most Excellent Adventure through time, to save themselves from a failing grade in high school history. In 1991, those same metalhead slackers went on a Bogus Journey involving The Grim Reaper, robotic duplicates, and a Battle of the Bands. Now – 25 years later – Bill S. Preston (Alex Winter) and Ted ‘Theodore’ Logan (Keanu Reeves), aka “Wyld Stallyns,” must write the song that will save the entire universe – in the next 75 minutes! Fortunately, they still have access to their time-travel phone booth, and they have kids old enough to help: Bill’s daughter Thea (Samara Weaving) and Ted’s daughter Billie (Brigitte Lundy-Paine). And let’s just say – the apples don’t fall far from the tree.

Review: All Together Now

We must be in the final throes of summer, with yet another teen drama based on a popular Young Adult (YA) book. Netflix brings us All Together Now, a sometimes heartbreaking but also uplifting tale about a friendly, selfless, cheery High School teen struggling to stay optimistic in the face of mounting adversity. The film is based on the book “Sorta Like a Rock Star” by Matthew Quick, and the vibe is about what you’d expect from the producers of engaging teen movies Love, Simon and The Fault in Our Stars.

Review: Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga

It had me at Pierce Brosnan and ABBA. Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga doesn’t pretend to be anything more than it is – a campy slice of goofy escapism that pays tribute to a worldwide phenomenon that the U.S. has been remarkably slow to embrace. Long before “American Idol” or “[whatever country’s] Got Talent” or “The Voice,” there was the Eurovision Song Contest, the world’s biggest song competition. It’s been around since 1956, spans more than 40 countries (not just European), and launched the careers of ABBA in 1974 and Celine Dion in 1988. How did I not know this? Anyway, I do now, thanks to Will Ferrell, who got hooked watching Eurovision during summer trips to his wife’s home country of Sweden. Who better than Ferrell (Elf, Talladega Nights, Anchorman) to craft a starring role for himself in a film that celebrates and mocks a global event that features an eclectic mix of talent?