Justin Wilkes

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Under African Skies Review


Excellent
This beautifully assembled documentary traces the creation of Paul Simon's seminal 1986 album Graceland, focussing on the political controversy the recording sessions sparked because South Africa was under a cultural boycott at the time. It's a skilful film that entertains as it reveals something important about history.

In 1985, Simon quietly travelled to South Africa to record tracks for his next album, invited by local musicians. But he and was shocked by racial tension he saw between blacks and whites there, and afterwards was caught off-guard by criticism from anti-Apartheid leaders who said his visit violated the boycott.

Simon argued that he wanted to avoid politics and collaborate with fellow musicians. For them, working with a world-class artist was a chance in a million. And Ladysmith Black Mambazo leader Shabalala says Simon was the first white man he'd ever hugged.

Continue reading: Under African Skies Review

Fade To Black Review


Weak
Throughout Jay-Z's Fade to Black, the rap superstar talks about the importance of making his final album great, and about how big his November 2003 concert at Madison Square Garden needs to be. Both are profiled in the film. It would have been nice if the man they called Jigga, put a little of that focus in helping to make an absorbing chronicle of those heady times. Fade to Black, for all of the cultural hoopla involved, isn't much different from a concert DVD with some extra footage thrown in.

I'm sure fans of Jay-Z will be enthralled as his improvised rhymes and speedy eloquence join forces with an array of talent from the hip-hop community, including Missy Elliott, R. Kelly, Mary J. Blige, and Pharrell Williams. Everyone else will feel like they're watching a movie that's perpetually halfway over.

Continue reading: Fade To Black Review

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Under African Skies Movie Review

Under African Skies Movie Review

This beautifully assembled documentary traces the creation of Paul Simon's seminal 1986 album Graceland, focussing...

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