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‘It must Schwing! The Blue Note Story’ Review: A tale of love, loyalty, and the pursuit of Jazz

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Does the fate of Black man’s music career still lie in the hands of the Jewish? While dozens augment the anti-Semitic stereotype of Jews controlling the music industry amid lacking respect for its culture, a new documentary debunks the exploitative and capitalistic rhetoric.

‘It must Schwing! The Blue Note’ story unpacks the journey of two German friends with one common goal –– introduce the world to the sound of Black Jazz. The film was directed by Eric Friedler and executive produced by Wim Wenders.

Alfred Lion and Francis Wolff fled from Berlin before the Nazi reign and emigrated to New York. They founded the legendary Blue Note Records label in 1939, which later became one of the most respected recording company’s for contemporary jazz in the country, and they had one hell of a roster to back up the notoriety.

The documentary captured the stories of some of the most influential Jazz musicians and their ties to Blue Note, which felt more like a family reunion. From Herbie Handcock to Quincy Jones to George Benson, the cameos played a key role in reviving the glory days –– well, kind of.

Friedler and Wenders narrated the story with subtle, Jazz cadences over classic, white and black animation resemblant of a French cartoon. The approach presented a buoyant element while exploring the dark history of discrimination, race relations, and inhumanity.

Lion and Wolff were no stranger to racism which caused them both to sympathize with the struggles of the Black musicians signed to their label. They didn’t see color –– all that mattered was the music and how alive it made them feel. Their love for Jazz guided them to take risks on a genre not yet explored.

Wolff frequently took blows to the head every time he ventured into the streets of Harlem to purchase the vibrant notes of Black, Jazz artists. He even chose his love for the genre over his marriage with his first wife, which showed the correlation between the beauty and suffering of Jazz.

His dedication to the art was both disturbing and inspiring. Now, Lion, on the other hand, brought in the same passion but quietly through his camera lens –– photographing candids of the artists is what made the label stand out.

Lion was like a silent assassin –– he didn’t say much but they knew he liked the music by his uncontrollable foot taps, even if he was offbeat the artists noted. His photographs became the artwork for their artist’s iconic album covers. The art was a reflection of the time. Before the spoiled era of Adobe software, there was Reid Miles, who was Blue Note’s graphic designer.

Miles progressive design skills along Lions standout still frames amplified the label’s message. Blue Note was ahead of its time, but, yet still light years behind in terms of revenue. While Lions and Wolff were never in it for the money, their pursuit to give their Black artists a voice wasn’t paying their bills.

Wolff eventually sold Blue Note to Liberty Records in 1965, which was the first time they saw any kind of real income, although it still wasn’t much to brag about.

So what happened to the artists post-acquisition? It left a bit of a cliff hanger for the audience as the documentary concluded. I can only assume there is more to the story, which I give it four stars.

It is worth seeing? Definitely, but be prepared to leave the theater wishing they dug deeper into Blue Note’s overall biography.

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Amazon Bushfire documentary dives into Australia’s ‘Black Summer”

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Courtesy of Amazon Studios

“Burning” circumferences the 2019-2020 Australian bushfires in which an estimated 59 million acres were ravaged in what’s recollected as the “Black Summer.” The hair-raising documentary made its debut at the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival, sparking outrage over the absence of political concern.

Oscar-winning filmmaker Eva Orner directed the 86-minute film, which presents horrifying testimonies from local activists, journalists, and victims who recounted the staggering devastation during the eight-month period.

Climate change activist, Daisy Jeffery, was featured in the documentary for her ferocious pursuit to create a safer environment for future generations. Jeffery admitted to “crying for three days straight” after witnessing the damage that remained in her hometown.

Like many Gen Zers, the 17-year-old revealed she is factoring the climate crisis into her future reproductive choices. Her ongoing anger toward dozens of political figures like Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has prompted her to lead protests across South East Australia, uniting thousands to speak out against the economic injustice.

The prime minister declined to be interviewed for the film, and his lack of response spoke volumes. Orner released footage throughout “Burning,” displaying Morrison’s ignorance surrounding the untamable flames even after former fire commissioner Greg Mullins warned of a lethal bushfire season a few years prior.

Eva Orner, Forrest Borie, Jonathan Schaerf - Eva Orner and Forrest Borie Photos - 2021 Toronto International Film Festival - "Burning" Photo Call - Zimbio
(L-R) Jonathan Schaerf, Eva Orner, and Forrest Borie attend the “Burning” Photo Call during the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival at TIFF Bell Lightbox on September 14, 2021 in Toronto, Ontario. (Getty)

“It’s worse than we think it is! Things are moving faster than we predicted and anticipated,” says Orner. “If we want to realistically protect the next generations, we have to take action now. It has to be government action across the globe. It needs to be legislation. It needs to be world leaders committing to net-zero by 2030; not 2050.”

Australia is considered the world’s largest exporter of coal and a major natural gas giant; Morrison turning the other cheek could cause catastrophic effects to the entire world. While citizens of the country fight to combat climate change, the prime minister continues to poke fun at the activism.

“Burning” will be available on Amazon Prime Video at a later date in 2021.

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Hollywood celebrates Pre-Emmy’s at 15th annual MPFA benefit gala “Evening Before”

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CENTURY CITY, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 18: (L-R) Billy Porter, Regé-Jean Page, Cynthia Erivo, Bob Beitcher, Yvette Nicole Brown, Kathryn Hahn, Michaela Jaé Rodriguez, Anya Taylor-Joy and Evan Peters attend MPTF 15th Annual Evening Before Emmys on September 18, 2021 in Century City, California. (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for MPTF)
CENTURY CITY, CALIFORNIA – SEPTEMBER 18: (L-R) Billy Porter, Regé-Jean Page, Cynthia Erivo, Bob Beitcher, Yvette Nicole Brown, Kathryn Hahn, Michaela Jaé Rodriguez, Anya Taylor-Joy and Evan Peters attend MPTF 15th Annual Evening Before Emmys on September 18, 2021 in Century City, California. (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for MPTF)

Television’s biggest night took place in Century City, CA Saturday, September 18th, where the entertainment industry came together for the 15th annual “Evening Before” party, benefiting MPTF (Motion Picture & Television Fund). 

The television industry, from Emmy presenters and nominees to other TV industry members, helped raise funds to support their industry colleagues and friends who benefit from MPTF’s charitable programs and services such as financial assistance, crisis counseling, care giving support and of course the legendary retirement facility in Woodland Hills that is “home” to television and film veterans alike. Out of an abundance of caution, all guests were required to show proof of vaccination and proof of a negative PCR Covid-19 test.

“What a fabulous night to celebrate MPTF’s 100th anniversary and the resiliency of our industry’s creative spirit!” said MPTF President & CEO Bob Beitcher. “MPTF’s Evening Before was a moment for all of us to remember.”

The 15th Annual “Evening Before” Host Committee consisted of Uzo Aduba, Anthony Anderson, Paul Bettany, Aidy Bryant, Olivia Colman & Ed Sinclair, Michael Douglas, Cynthia Erivo, Jonathan Groff, Kathryn Hahn & Ethan Sandler, William H. Macy, Regé-Jean Page, Evan Peters, Billy Porter, Michaela Jaé Rodriguez, Jean Smart, Jurnee Smollett, Anya Taylor-Joy, Kenan Thompson, Hannah Waddingham, and Bradley Whitford & Amy Landecker.

The Executive Host Committee included Bela Bajaria, Bob Bakish, Greg Berlanti & Robbie Rogers, Frances Berwick, Casey Bloys, Michelle & Paul Buccieri, George Cheeks, Nicole Clemens & Vaun Wilmott, Charlie Collier, Roma Downey & Mark Burnett, Channing Dungey, Jamie Erlicht, Craig Erwich, Ann & Jim Gianopulos, Pearlena Igbokwe, Jason Kilar, Katie McGrath & J.J. Abrams, Steve Mosko, Andrea & David Nevins, Megan & Peter Rice, Susan Rovner, Jennifer Salke, Ann Sarnoff, Zack Van Amburg, Tony Vinciquerra, Dana & Matt Walden, and Ally Walker & John Landgraf.

This year’s presenting sponsors were Penske Media Corporation (PMC) and Target with additional support from Diamond sponsors Netflix, The Walt Disney Company, and WarnerMedia.

Among the celebrities who attended this year’s event were Lauren Ash, Vanessa Bayer, Madeline Brewer, Sterling K. Brown, Yvette Nicole Brown, Stephen Colbert, Ariana DeBose, Zooey Deschanel, Phil Dunster, Paapa Essiedu, Fortune Feimster, Cristo Fernández, Lukas Gage, Brett Goldstein, Tony Hale, Justin Hartley, Christina Hendricks, Anders Holm, Sarah Hyland, Mindy Kaling, Dan Levy, Natasha Lyonne, Joel McHale, Lorne Michaels, Max Minghella, Matthew Morrison, Annie Murphy, Julianne Nicholson, Ego Nwodim, Josh O’Connor, Rita Ora, Amy Poehler, Jack Quaid, Juno Temple, Tessa Thompson, Lena Waithe, Taika Waititi, Bowen Yang and many more.

The “Evening Before” was designed as a relaxed town square atmosphere in the park by Silver Birches with specialty food provided by Carmelized Productions by Jon Shook & Vinny Dotolo.

The event is designed after the highly successful “Night Before,” another fundraiser held annually before the Academy Awards for the past nineteen years to benefit MPTF.

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The cast of ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ discuss film’s uplifting soundtrack feature “You Will Be Found”

The breathtaking, generation-defining Broadway phenomenon, “Dear Evan Hansen” becomes a soaring cinematic event as Tony, Grammy and Emmy Award winner Ben Platt reprises his role as an anxious, isolated high schooler aching for understanding and belonging amid the chaos and cruelty of the social-media age.

Directed by acclaimed filmmaker Stephen Chbosky (The Perks of Being A Wallflower, Wonder), the film is written for the screen by the show’s Tony winner Steven Levenson with music and lyrics by the show’s Oscar®, Grammy and Tony-winning songwriting team of Benj Pasek & Justin Paul (La La Land, The Greatest Showman).

The cast includes: Ben Platt, Amy Adams, Julianne Moore, Amandla Stenberg, and more.

The film is only theaters September 24, 2021.

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