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Jimi - All Is By My Side
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Nel 1966 uno sconosciuto chitarrista chiamato Jimmy James lascio' la citta' di New York per andare a Londra. Dodici mesi dopo torno' negli Stati Uniti per calcare il palco del Monterey Pop... e la sua chitarra prese fuoco. Jimi: All is by My Side e' un film scritto e diretto da John Ridley, che racconta un anno cruciale nella vita di quello che in molti considerano il piu' grande chitarrista della Storia.
Nel 1966 uno sconosciuto chitarrista chiamato Jimmy James lasciò la città di New York per andare a Londra. Dodici mesi dopo tornò negli Stati Uniti per calcare il palco del Monterey Pop... e la sua chitarra prese fuoco. Jimi: All is by My Side è un film scritto e diretto da John Ridley, che racconta un anno cruciale nella vita di quello che in molti considerano il più grande chitarrista della Storia.
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Before seeing the film I was apprehensive, as I had been told that my character was portrayed in a derogatory and potentially defamatory manner. I had been told that Jimi had beaten me with a telephone in the film and after I had protested that this was not true the film makers had replied that it was true because they had “thoroughly researched” me.
In other words they were saying that they were telling the truth and I was not.
During the opening scenes I found it difficult to comprehend the way the story was unfolding, or what it was depicting. The editing was disjointed and dialogue was layered on top of alternate dialogue, seemingly from a parallel conversation.
The film progressed in a confusing and dull manner but there was one scene that gave me a momentary lift of anticipation. The scene depicts Jimi playing with Cream at the London Polytechnic Students’ Union and should have set out to depict an absolutely epic event that I had witnessed. (I had been carrying Jimi’s guitar).
I hoped that they would do Jimi justice in their interpretation of what happened.
Unfortunately, once the music started, my heart sank. What a disappointment. Not only was it insulting to Jimi’s legacy, but I would say it was fairly insulting to Eric Clapton as well because the real Eric Clapton would never have been in awe of the unremarkable performance presented to viewers in this film.
The storyline progressed in an awkward and illogical way and was hard to comprehend.
The basis seemed to be that the dimwitted “Jimi” could not make up his mind between the good rock chick (Linda Keith) and the bad rock chick (Kathy Etchingham) who later goes bonkers and takes an overdose. (If I was the actress having to play this lousy part wearing those ugly clothes I may have taken an overdose too.)
The strange fact that jars with this fictional narrative is that the unfortunate Linda Keith ended up in rehab at around this time because Keith Richards, of all people, initiated an intervention that probably saved her life. She was hardly in a position to be advising Jimi on how to play the guitar and do his hair.
Fictional characters were introduced that furthered the deluded political, racial and sexist agenda that John Ridley seemed to be pursuing. In particular Michael X was presented as a saintly black political guru whereas in truth he was a violent criminal con man who was executed for a gruesome murder. An “Ida” character is introduced who never existed in real life.
The biggest disappointment of this film was that after expecting at least some kind of depiction of Jimi’s humour and creativity and the amusing and creative times that were happening in London, instead we were shown a gloomy and depressing dark tale that pictured Jimi as some sort of moronic mumbling mystic.
Instead of showing Jimi touring the UK and Europe, writing and performing the most innovative music of the century we are shown scenes of banal meanderings, fictitious gratuitous violence and fictitious mental breakdowns and overdoses.
My initial anxiety turned to scorn for the thoroughly bad screenplay and direction.
I became bored and impatient for the end of the film.
The nature of the film left me feeling that the events I was watching were more akin to a made for DVD fictional movie than a biopic. I felt that I wasn’t watching an interpretation of the real events from the time, but rather a stiff and poorly depicted mashup of events described in my book, sprinkled over Ridley’s racially driven fictional theme. Even the imaginary and defamatory domestic violence and drug use that my character was involved in did not evoke the emotional response I expected, and I found myself feeling just as I have when watching other bad movies, impatient for it to just finish and spare me the indignity of having to watch another tiresome scene with wooden dialogue and disjointed editing.
A short-sighted and somewhat offensive portrayal of Jimi and those around him at the time.
Fictional Movie – 2/10
Biopic purporting to be based in fact – 1/10 (for spelling all the names right)
The viewer should note that Ridley never interviewed me or obtained a release. Also none of Jimi’s London friends have been interviewed by him or any of his staff.
Jimi deserved better.
On the less than positive side, the movie is a challenge to watch. In many places the pacing is painfully slow and could benefit from some editing. Several pregnant pauses could be shorter. The majority of the acting is subdued and laidback; so laidback it’s behind itself! There are also many scenes utilizing a hand held camera which results in a lot of movement and shaking of the frame – very distracting. Even the color of the film is muted. I don’t know if is the type of film stock used, but the film seems “overcast.” Maybe that’s just London. The one splash of color and illumination comes near the end when Jimi makes his triumphal appearance at the Saville and he takes the stage under bright lights wearing a yellow jacket. It feels like cataracts have been removed from your eyes and you can see again.
There is a particular scene that musicians should appreciate. Starting around 12:30 Jimi is on stage playing with his band, and the drummer drops a stick. The musicians may have actually been playing and their performances used in the film. The drop and reaction seem genuine. That was the one scene I could relate to!
There are no extras related to Jimi. The one bit included in the special features is an interview with Waddy Wachtel, the guy who supplied the music, and he ends up talking more about his signature guitar. It would have been appreciated to have some kind of information about this time period in Jimi’s life.
This film will have a hard time finding its audience. True fans have ripped it, the casual fan will learn little, and the main stream soccer moms/dads won’t have time to endure it. To me, this project does more for Andre Benjamin’s legacy. Perhaps a more definitive biopic will be available someday.