Standing in the Shadows of Motown (USA, 2002)

Standing-In-The-Shadows-Of-MotownDirected by: Paul Justman. For some reason, I thought this would be a really enjoyable movie. I love finding out more about music I love, and I love all of the Motown songs I grew up with, without really knowing anything about them. So when I finally came across this one, I was excited to finally get the inside scoop on how all of those amazing tracks were recorded, who did them, what inspired them, etc. (I even thought they might get into some deep nerdy shit, obscure recording techniques, gear talk, all that stuff that goes over my head but I love seeing anyway.) In retrospect, I have no fucking clue why I thought this movie would be that. But I guess I’m just optimistic¬†because, even though there was little chance that this movie would get into that deep level of music-nerdophilia, I was kind of holding a candle that the movie would at least be kind of good. Just a bit. You know? I really didn’t fathom that they would hire actors to play out little mini-scenes from the band’s history, so that instead of seeing interviews with Pistol Allen and Uriel Jones all of the time, we get to hear the band members talking about the good old days for a while, and then see a bunch of actors with thick-rimmed glasses and afros driving around in vintage cars while the actual musicians narrate over top of the image. Likewise, I hadn’t anticipated quite so much modern-day live playing, but it’s to be expected I suppose (even though the subject of the movie is those recordings, not some live interpretation thereof—even if it’s by the “authentic” Funk Brothers). What I totally didn’t expect was that a movie that purports to be a testament to the eternal genius of this band and their long list of amazing hits would include live impersonations of classic artists by a bunch of singers that the filmmakers thought would do a great job of it. Personal taste aside—I know, I know, I know. I’m not sure who I would have picked to do this (if this really really really needed to be done), but I might not have thought that getting Joan Osborne, Ben Harper, and Bootsy Collins to sing the bulk of the covers would be a great idea. Call me picky, but all of that stuff (which comprised about 50% of the movie), is not my idea of a fitting “tribute” to what really are some of the best recordings ever made in pop music. And in any case, it’s not my idea of a good movie.

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One response to “Standing in the Shadows of Motown (USA, 2002)

  1. Pingback: List of Judgements, Anno Domini 2015 | Offhand Reviews·

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