People can be amazing. Take any film for example - even if it's a film that doesn't rock your boat. The coming together of a team. Networking. Phone calls. Emails. Months of planning. Arranging locations and costumes and film crews, make up artists. Discussions with scriptwriters. Selecting the actors. Picking the music. The money side of things. It is an enormously complicated process - like spinning a massive spider's web. And when the credits roll at the end of the film, it is as if you are seeing the mere tip of that iceberg of endeavour and communication which produced the preceding film.
I have two films to report. The one I saw last week was "71" and this morning it was "Jimi: All Is By My Side".
"71" is set in Belfast at the height of the so-called "Troubles". A young soldier from Derbyshire finds himself thrown into a cauldron of internecine hatred, fear and blood-letting. He may only be a hundred and fifty miles from home but it feels like a million. Injured and lost on patrol off The Falls Road he has to find his way back to the barracks and it turns out to be the most awful journey of his life.
Directed by Yann Demange and starring Jack O'Connel as Private Gary Hook "71" is a low budget film sponsored by British Film Institute, Film4, Creative Scotland and Screen Yorkshire. It is tense, earthy and convincing as it exposes what it was sometimes like on the raw streets of Belfast back in the early seventies. It makes you think about man's inhumanity to man and where religious tribalism can lead.
Jimi Hendrix is one of my musical heroes. It often seemed as if his guitar was part of his body and he could play it with such natural dexterity that it might seem he was communing with the stars. In the second film - a "biopic" which focuses on 1966-67 - just before his legendary breakthrough show at the Monterey Pop Festival. Jimi is played by André Benjamin who is physically remarkably similar to the maestro guitarist and certainly showed some of Jimi's dreamy, vulnerable character.
Apparently the making of this film was subject to certain legal complaints which resulted in a ban on any original Hendrix tracks. Imagine that - a film about Jimi Hendrix without the music he made - just cover versions. And there were other disappointments.
|"All Is By My Side"|
At one point, Jimi is in London walking down the street with his girlfriend Kathy played by Hayley Atwell and wearing one of his trademark military tunics. He is suddenly accosted by four policemen in ill-fitting helmets who intimidate him and demand that he removes his tunic. This scene was so unauthentic as to be cringeworthy.
I wanted "All Is By My Side" to be a moving portrait of Hendrix's journey to musical fame but I am afraid it doesn't do him justice. It has a shallow, cartoonish quality about it in my view and fails to capture a believable sense of the London music scene into which Hendrix arrived in the middle of the sixties. I wouldn't recommend it.