Neon | Release Date: November 23, 2018
8.1
USER SCORE
Universal acclaim based on 21 Ratings
USER RATING DISTRIBUTION
Positive:
19
Mixed:
1
Negative:
1
Watch Now
Buy On
Review this movie
VOTE NOW
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Check box if your review contains spoilers 0 characters (5000 max)
9
GrantD243Aug 23, 2019
I'm not a religious person so I am generally not a fan of church music, but there's just something different about it when Aretha Franklin is singing it. It's absolutely magical and when she stops singing you just want her to immediatelyI'm not a religious person so I am generally not a fan of church music, but there's just something different about it when Aretha Franklin is singing it. It's absolutely magical and when she stops singing you just want her to immediately start another song. This documentary is pretty barebones, and that's how it should be. It puts her performance in the spotlight and that's it. There's no voice over or interviews, only the performance. This is a must watch for, well, everyone...regardless of your religious perspective. Expand
1 of 1 users found this helpful10
All this user's reviews
10
TVJerryApr 23, 2019
In 1972, Aretha Franklin spent 2 nites recording the titular album and it became the biggest gospel LP ever. This film documents the event. The filming is grainy and sometimes sloppy, but it doesn't matter. It's all about Aretha and herIn 1972, Aretha Franklin spent 2 nites recording the titular album and it became the biggest gospel LP ever. This film documents the event. The filming is grainy and sometimes sloppy, but it doesn't matter. It's all about Aretha and her incredible ability. Backed by a wonderful choir led by James Cleveland and Alexander Hamilton, she makes every note a masterpiece. Not only is the gospel electric, this momentous event reinforces why Franklin is the greatest soul singer of our time. Expand
1 of 2 users found this helpful11
All this user's reviews
7
Brent_MarchantApr 12, 2019
This long-awaited release of Aretha Franklin's 1972 gospel album concert/recording session documentary is indeed a piece of music history, and the First Lady of Music doesn't disappoint. However, while the picture is somewhat typical ofThis long-awaited release of Aretha Franklin's 1972 gospel album concert/recording session documentary is indeed a piece of music history, and the First Lady of Music doesn't disappoint. However, while the picture is somewhat typical of concert films of the day, it comes across as somewhat amateurish by contemporary standards (unfocused cinematography, choppy editing, inconsistent sound quality, etc., material quite surprising from a director like Sydney Pollack). See it for the Queen's superb performance, but don't be disappointed by the rest of it. Expand
1 of 2 users found this helpful11
All this user's reviews
9
swelleanorApr 20, 2019
This film is all about the music performance, which is wonderful. It is well worth seeing on a large screen with theater quality audio. I am not a religious person, but I was moved to tears.
1 of 2 users found this helpful11
All this user's reviews
9
MarkHReviewsApr 19, 2019
“Amazing Grace” is a revelation. That this documentary even exists is a miracle.

In January, 1972, a 29-year-old Aretha Franklin recorded a live gospel album. Over two days, with the help of Rev. James Cleveland (himself a well-known
“Amazing Grace” is a revelation. That this documentary even exists is a miracle.

In January, 1972, a 29-year-old Aretha Franklin recorded a live gospel album. Over two days, with the help of Rev. James Cleveland (himself a well-known gospel singer), the Southern California Community Choir and the studio musicians who had helped make her the Queen of Soul on Atlantic Records, Aretha recorded at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Watts, Los Angeles. “Amazing Grace,” the resulting album, became the best-selling gospel recording of all time.

The songs selected for the album, and indirectly the film, are an eclectic blend. They include traditional gospel hymns, a mash-up of Carole King’s “You’ve Got a Friend” with the gospel tune “Precious Lord,” Marvin Gaye’s “Wholy Holy.” With my Baptist upbringing, I was literally sobbing throughout “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” and “Amazing Grace” – with Aretha in full flight, the choir in full-throated response and the audience in rapture. In fairness, my wife, one of the more empathic souls on the planet, was completely dry-eyed and found the film “an interesting anthropology lesson.” So your experience may vary.

Sensing that something magical was about to happen during these recording sessions, Warner Brothers studio (which owned Atlantic Records) hired director Sidney Pollack to document the proceedings. With five cameramen, he recorded every moment. The result was over twenty hours of audio recording and over 1500 video scenes, including shots of Mick Jagger standing, clapping and singing (the Stones were in LA to record “Exile on Main Street”). The structure of this documentary is quite bare-bones. There are almost no side conversations, no voiceovers for context and no interviews with any of the participants. This austere structure allows Pollack and his crew to focus on the most important task – capturing Aretha singing at the height of her powers, often in extreme close-up.

Now on to the miraculous part. Presumably because they were filming and recording a live performance, Pollack and his crew never “slated the scenes” (using the wood clapper to mark the beginning of the upcoming scene). In 1972, slating the scene was the only way to accurately sync 16mm video with the audio, which came from two different sources. After months of effort, including hiring Choir Director Alexander Hamilton for $200/week to lip-read some of the video, producers decided this problem was insurmountable. The project was abandoned and the materials shelved for decades.

In 2007, Producer Alan Elliott purchased the raw footage from Warner Brothers, unaware of the syncing problem. Fortunately, what was impossible in 1972 could by then be conquered through digitization. However, because the tapes had sat in a basement unattended for over 35 years, they first had to be “re-baked” (literally placed in an oven and heated to over 130 degrees) so they would not disintegrate while being digitally processed. The finally-synced footage was edited into the final version of the documentary by 2015. For reasons unknown, Aretha then sued to block release. Only after a screening for Franklin’s family following Aretha’s death last year did her estate eventually allow the film to be shown publicly.

So, this documentary is forty-seven years in the making, but wow, was it worth the wait. “Amazing Grace” – how sweet the sound!
Expand
1 of 2 users found this helpful11
All this user's reviews
10
jkweonApr 25, 2019
asldkfjdsalkfjaldskjjfl;dsakjfl;kadsjflksd;ajflksdjllsdkfjasldkfj;lasdkdjfls;dkjfl;aksjdf
0 of 3 users found this helpful03
All this user's reviews
10
aceofspadespdxDec 15, 2019
Spellbinding. Finally, an indie film that isn't geared toward hipsters, and reveals itself to be even more indispensable than the original double album.
0 of 0 users found this helpful00
All this user's reviews