August 07, 2013

MOVIES: the catching up concludes

And to finish getting caught up, quick thoughts on a couple of titles:

Morgan Neville's 20 Feet From Stardom is a delightful documentary about backup singers, focusing primarily on four women who have spent most of their lives in the background. Some of them have taken shots at stardom themselves, but fate and circumstance never gave them the big break they needed. I could have done without a few moments where some of the other talking heads in the movie stretch a little hard in trying to tie their fates to broader issues of racism and sexism, and the movie isn't terribly innovative in style, being mostly a series of talking-head interviews.

But the music is spectacular, and there's a scene late in the movie where Lisa Fischer, singing in 4-part harmony with herself, does a slightly popped-up version of Samuel Barber's "Sure on This Shining Night" that had my jaw on the floor.

And Despicable Me 2 is a very entertaining sequel that manages to give the popular minions more to do without letting them entirely take over the show. I might have hoped for a bit more vocal energy from Benjamin Bratt, whose villain falls a bit flat, but aside from that, I liked the movie a lot.

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