This past week Margaret and I viewed the excellent new documentary titled Amy, about the British singer Amy Winehouse. The movie, by filmmaker Asif Kapadia, chronicles the short and tragic life of a musical genius. Like many of you I knew very little about this little Jewish girl from London except that she died young. Most of what I did know was from the media, and the media is more interested in the sensational, not the real story. We were mostly made aware of Amy’s demise through the abuse of her body (and ultimately her soul) by abusing drugs and a lot of alcohol. Our impressions were of a person who had no control of her life and we naturally put the blame on her.
This documentary is important for two reason; first, it gives insight into a true musical genius, which we are able to witness through numerous performances and interviews with other musical greats. And second, the movie is a mirror reflecting who we are as social animals, manipulated by the media as they learn what sells. True that not many of us can turn away from a car wreck, but what do we really get out of it? A sense that we’re better than the poor fool in the wreck? Is it not a by product of human nature to build ourselves up by seeing others torn down? For me this impression was overwhelming in Amy, and made me aware of how vigilant one must be not to get caught up in the media frenzy of things that just don’t matter (just look at the entire Kardashian family as an extreme example).
I don’t want to go into detail about the life of Amy Winehouse, that’s what the documentary is for and it does a better job than I can ever do with words. Suffice it to say, once one gets through preconceived notions, we realize we lost a natural musical genius. As Tony Bennett laments when interviewed for the movie “if she could have just withstood a few more years in the public eye life would have straightened out for her”. Here’s a performer who most likely has seen it all in the industry. He recorded with Amy and said she had a natural ability to sing jazz unlike anyone he had ever heard.
A couple years ago we were watching an episode of the excellent HBO series The Newsroom (a great series that never had a big enough audience) and over the closing credits was a version of the song Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow by Carol King and Gerry Goffin. This version sounded both old and new in style and execution. I had to know who performed it, so turning to Google I learned it was by Amy Winehouse from an album she recorded of songs from the same era titled Lioness: Hidden Treasures. I admit this is the only album I own from Amy Winehouse but after seeing this documentary I want more.
What I now understand is that Amy Winehouse was a huge talent, discovered at a very young age and without a support system to help her navigate through the tough world of stardom, even though she didn’t want stardom, she just wanted to write and sing. People preyed on her success, including her family, never taking into account her vulnerability. That, along with the unrelenting paparazzi was too much. She sabotaged her career to escape it and ultimately sacrificed her life. A very sad story.
Watch the trailer here.
Margaret’s Mini Movie Review: Amy – Documentary of Amy Winehouse. With apologies to Amy Schumer, THIS movie should be titled Trainwreck. After seeing this wonderful and disturbing movie, my judgement of her, based on pics of her disheveled self during her last year is so far off. This woman was a powerhouse singer/songwriter and this movie opens your eyes to that fact. It’s heartbreaking to see her life spiral while family all but ignores (enables?) her issues, but most likely not her money and fame. See this movie for nothing else but to come away with a changed view of Amy Winehouse. I sure did. Grade = A
6 thoughts on “A Spark of Greatness Destroyed By the Flash of a Bulb”
I don’t go to many movies, but Diane and I saw this one yesterday. You are absolutely right – wonderful movie, but so tragic and disturbing. We were amazed that they could make such an incredible movie with only real-life footage – no actors.
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Margaret said the same….so much footage. Guess we live in an age when everything is recorded.
great title- indeed, the flash of the bulbs are what disgusts me in this film.
I saw Amy yesterday (7/12) too. I have one CD of her’s and need to find it. I did put her on Pandora last night and listened with a new appreciation.Her voice was so unusual…definitely classic jazz with an almost rockabilly lilt. Her family, especially her father, were leeches as were the media and the public, including fans. The film was well done. It was almost as if someone knew they would use those film clips later for a biography.
I’ll put it on my list! In theaters, not Netflix?
Just out in theaters….