|REJOICE AND SHOUT
McGlynn; cinematographer: Steven Wacks;
Axelson; Runtime: 115; MPAA Rating: PG;
Lauro; Magnolia Pictures; 2010)
"The result is an uneven film, despite all the talent on display and the importance of the project."
by Dennis Schwartz
Don McGlynn's ("The Howlin' Wolf Story") gospel documentary offers a history lesson about the traditional African-American church music. It was an American music that evolved out of the blend of plantation slave songs and Christian hymns. Unfortunately, for me, too much of the documentary was like going to church on Sunday and having to deal with a dull sermon on faith. But if you are patient, you are finally rewarded with the lively gospel music. Logging in at close to two hours is too long for such an unstructured and rambling time capsule work. The result is an uneven film, despite all the talent on display and the importance of the project.
The film is filled with
interviews, talking heads and archive footage of the
gospel singers. I enjoyed most of all the clip of the
great Mahalia Jackson, who is shown in a complete
performance from “The Ed Sullivan Show.”There were
also clips from Sister Rosetta Tharpe and the Swan
Silvertones. The one gospel album I possess, “Oh Happy Day,” by the
Edwin Hawkins Singers, was fun to see. Among the interviews, we
hear from luminaries such as Mavis Staples, Smokey
Robinson and Ira Tucker of the Dixie Hummingbirds.
The Memphis-based Selvy family,
a large multigenerational clan, have its members first
interviewed sitting in church pews and by the climax
give a moving performance featuring the powerful voice
of Darrel Petties.
Many perceive gospel music
as the music from another era, a music that helped
jazz and the blues evolve. For those like me, who
enjoy the music in a secular way and not as part of a
religious worship, I hope it continues to be part of
the American scene and believe it deserves to be
remembered for its inspiring and unique sound. The
ambitious documentary, despite its limitations, helps
gospel music by spreading the word how rich and
rewarding is the music.
REVIEWED ON 12/17/2011 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ