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Thursday, January 16, 2014

20 FEET FROM STARDOM Blu-ray Review

Courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment and RADiUS-TWC

Blu-ray Review2013, 91 minutes
Rated PG-13 for some strong language and sexual material

by Joshua Handler
This morning, Morgan Neville's fantastic documentary 20 Feet From Stardom was nominated for the Best Documentary Feature Oscar.  I saw the film at a Rooftop Films screening over the summer and had the following to say in this edited excerpt from my review:
"Morgan Neville's 20 Feet From Stardom is pure bliss.  It is a documentary that will have you laughing and tapping your toes while giving you goosebumps from its pure power.  The film is about...background singers who are the unsung voices on the most famous songs of all time.  These women share stories about their successes and their regrets in a film that will make you believe in movie magic once again.

You don't have to have a large interest in music to enjoy this film.  It does not require a large musical background to understand what is going on (if you know who The Rolling Stones are, you're fine).  This is a film that shows how humans can be brought together by the ability to sing, and the women featured in the film frequently discuss their love of being in a group of singers harmonizing with one another."
While I did not view the film again, I did view all of the special features on the disc.  Not only is 20 Feet From Stardom a powerful movie, but the special features on the disc are also enlightening and very entertaining.  There is a short included in the special features called "The Buddy System" about the tight-knit nature of the background singer community.  It really isn't that special, but the Times Talk with Neville, Darlene Love, Lisa Fischer, and Merry Clayton is superb, as are the deleted scenes.  The Times Talk was conducted in the New York Times Building over the past summer and is a 30-minute discussion about the film.  Not only is the information interesting, but so is watching Love, Fischer, and Clayton.  They are very animated and listening to much of this talk is like listening to a kind of story time.  These women are so passionate and their stories are so entertaining that it is a pleasure to listen to them.

The deleted scenes are also very interesting because they shed a light on the darker side of background singing that's only hinted at in the film.  A few of the women interviewed discuss the struggles they've had with their careers, which adds another dimension to what is seen in the film.  By no means does the film gloss over these struggles, but in these clips, they're more explicitly dealt with.

Overall, this is an excellent Blu-ray buy if you're a fan of the movie - it looks great, sounds great, and actually has some good special features.  20 Feet From Stardom was one of the best documentaries of 2013 and is highly deserving of its Oscar nomination.  It is an entertaining, crowd-pleasing, and rousing film that sheds light on a group of women whose recognition is long overdue.

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