20 FEET FROM STARDOM (director/writer: Morgan Neville; cinematographers: Nicola B. Marsh/Graham Willoughby; editors: Jason Zeldes/Kevin Klauber; cast: Darleen Love, Merry Clayton, Lisa Fischer, Judith Hill, Tata Vega, Claudia Lennear, Susaye Greene, Jo Lawry; Runtime: 91; MPAA Rating:NR; producers: Gil Friesen/Caitrin Rogers; Radius TWC; 2013)
“I guess it leaves us with the message not everyone is destined to be a star, for one reason or another.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Filmmaker Morgan Neville(“The Cool School”/”Troubadours“) shines the light on renown backup singers, Darleen Love, Merry Clayton, Lisa Fischer, Judith Hill, Tata Vega, Claudia Lennear, Susaye Greene, and Jo Lawry, and in the shadows interviews headliners like Mick Jagger, Sting, Stevie Wonder and Bruce Springsteen who pontificate about what it takes to be a headliner as opposed to a backup singer. It was peppy when the singers did their thing singing, but when asked to be philosophical the pic only had a few enlightening moments and mostly went into a slow-freeze.
Overall, it was a good watch and justice was served that these unsung black divas, most with a background in church gospels, get some props and get a chance to tell their long tale of suffering or how their career was a triumph. The archive footage was a treat for lovers of rock, as there’s great footage of the Stones and Joe Cocker with their backup singers. I guess it leaves us with the message not everyone is destined to be a star, for one reason or another.
REVIEWED ON 7/27/2013 GRADE: B
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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