The Documentary Film Group will be gathering one afternoon each month to discuss a documentary film. The documentaries are all available on Netflix unless noted otherwise and participants should watch the documentary selection before coming to the meeting where we will discuss the film. Our schedule for the next few months will be available shortly.
THE MAY FILM IS "James Brown, Mr. Dynamite
Directed by Alex Gibney
A look at the music career of musician James Brown beginning with his first hit song, "Please, Please, Please," in 1956.
"At the time, Elvis, and the new genre of rock and roll, was probably the most controversial and “dangerous” new thing in pop culture. Mr. Brown was still trying to find his “voice.” He was singing familiar styled blues and R&B songs. “Kansas City,” for example, became one of his early staples. By 1959 rock and roll nearly died; then came the Beatles, Motown, and a host of cultural upheavals during the 1960s.
Out of this decade of upheaval emerged the Godfather of Soul. He surrounded himself with great players and he found what he could do, and do well – bring the funk and soul. Nobody had heard anything like “Cold Sweat,” or “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag,” or “Say It Loud." Imagine what it must have been like to hear these songs for the first time!
“The Rise of James Brown” chronicles this time period; his climb to the top. This is not a survey of his entire career, but the period in which he was the most innovative, politically active, and a force to be reckoned with. So much so, that in 1969 LOOK Magazine placed him on their cover asking if he was the most important Black man in America." Amazon.com
“Made with the support and cooperation of Brown's estate, the doc features rare and never-before-seen footage, interviews and photos from throughout the musician's career. The documentary will also include interviews with Jagger, Questlove, Chuck D, Rev. Al Sharpton, Maceo Parker, Clyde Stubblefield, Melvin Parker, Alfred "Pee Wee" Ellis, Martha High, Bootsy Collins, Fred Wesley and many more.” ---
"There is one interview I remember from my early days as a reporter, and I often recite a line from it because it’s the best answer I’ve ever gotten and ever will get. Naturally, it came from James Brown. It was in 1989, at the dark, wrong end of Brown’s career, when he was in prison for, among other things, capping a long bout of partying with a high-speed chase through Georgia and South Carolina that ended only after police officers shot out his tires.
I was a Time magazine reporter, and he was working in the prison cafeteria. The warden let me wave through a window at Brown, inmate No. 155413, as he wiped down tables in a cook’s white coat and cap, embellished by purple wraparound sunglasses and matching scarf. Brown was allowed to speak by phone. I didn’t even know where to begin, so I asked how he was feeling.
“I’m well rested now,” he said, and waited a beat. “But I miss being tired.”
That reply is almost reason enough for watching “Mr. Dynamite: The Rise of James Brown,” an HBO documentary directed by Alex Gibney, on Monday night. But there are plenty of others. This is a smart, informative and compassionate look at the artist known as the Godfather of Soul, whose music changed America." "---Allessandra Stanley
Questions: This month, Contact Laura Mendelsohn at firstname.lastname@example.org or 317-902-8977.
If you would like to nominate a documentary film for discussion, please send your suggestions to Norma Gindes at email@example.com.