.

Listen Up

Clarence Avant, George Benson, Richard Brooks

Directed by Ellen Weissbrod
Rolling Stone: star rating
5 0
Community: star rating
5 0 0
October 5, 1990

Subtitled 'The Lives of Quincy Jones,' this earnest but needlessly jumbled documentary rounds up musical heavyweights – from Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis to Michael Jackson and Ice-T – to give the good word on Jones as trumpeter, composer, conductor, arranger, producer and friend. Whether it's jazz or pop, R&B or rap, Jones has been an innovator for four decades. So we're told. How much better it would have been to see how Jones does it.

Instead, producer Courtney Sale Ross and first-time director Ellen Weissbrod reduce the musical segments to maddening snippets – except for a few promotional glimpses of Jones at work on his most recent record, Back on the Block. And yet there's time for Barbra Streisand to burble about how Jones "inspires trust" and for Steven Spielberg to lionize Jones as "a spray gun of love." Among the interviewees, Lionel Hampton, Gillespie and Davis are the most revealing and fun. "Pop – that means 'white,' doesn't it?" asks Davis in a mischievous aside about music the movie could have used more of.

On a visit to Jones's former home in Chicago, the camera ominously examines a lace curtain as Jones free-associates about childhood traumas, racism and violence. Later, his daughter, Jolie, talks of her father's workaholism, his womanizing and the aneurysm that almost killed him. But these topics are merely touched upon, not probed. There's a compelling subject on view in Listen Up. It's too bad the filmmakers have chosen a spotlight instead of a microscope to do the examination.

prev
Movie Review Main Next

ADD A COMMENT

Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...

COMMENTS

Sort by:
    Read More

    Movie Reviews

    More Reviews »
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.

    X

    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories

    “Bleeding Love”

    Leona Lewis | 2007

    In 2008, The X Factor winner Leona Lewis backed up her U.K. singing competition victory with an R&B anthem for the ages: "Bleeding Love," an international hit that became the best-selling song of the year. The track was co-penned by OneRepublic's Ryan Tedder (whose radio dominance would continue with songs such as Beyonce's "Halo" and Adele's "Rumour Has It") and solo artist Jesse McCartney, who was inspired by a former girlfriend, Gossip Girl actress Katie Cassidy. Given the song's success, McCartney didn't regret handing over such a personal track: "No, no," he said. "I'm so happy for Leona. She deserves it. There are really no bad feelings."

    More Song Stories entries »
    www.expandtheroom.com