Yet another music biopic is slated to be released on December 23rd. With a disappointing Aretha Franklin biopic starring Jennifer Hudson fresh on my mind (“Respect”, 2021), I am hoping that the new documentary about Whitney Houston provides more than can just as easily be heard on Spotify.
I am glad to hear that Dionne Warwick, Whitney Houston’s accomplished cousin, feels the same way I do. The fact that she isn’t collaborating on this film is concerning; however, she is also no spring chicken anymore and says she just wants peace for her cousin.
“I knew Aretha from when we were teenagers, and there was a lot missing (from the movie “Respect”).” (Dionne Warwick, second cousin of Whitney Houston)
Here’s one of Dionne Warwick’s greatest hits (1964)
The script for “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” was penned by Kiwi Anthony McCarten who also wrote Bohemian Rhapsody, the award-winning biopic about Freddie Mercury and Queen.
I particularly like McCarten’s “The Theory of Everything”, a biopic about the life of highly disabled physicist Stephen Hawking and his first wife, which won an Oscar for Best Picture of the Year in 2014.
Is he the man for the job or just a man on a roll? I hope the former.
We all know the Whitney Houston story. This Jersey girl didn’t come from scratch – her family already had musical accomplishments and connections. The rumor mill says her godmother was Aretha Franklin. Woah! Behind the scenes of stardom, her life was amiss. What is even more tragic is that her only child, daughter Bobbi, met a similar fate after the death of Whitney.
Elvis is another music biopic that was released this year. The film follows the life of Elvis Presley from the unique perspective of his manager, Colonel Tom Parker, played masterfully by Tom Hanks. It is the second highest grossing biopic ever behind “Bohemian Rhapsody”.
We have promise of two new music-related biopics in 2023: “Back to Black” about Amy Winehouse and “Going Electric” about Bob Dylan.
“Back to Black” screenwriter Matt Greenhalgh is a Brit who has “Control” (2007), about Joy Division frontman Ian Curtin, and “Nowhere Boy” (2008), about John Lennon’s younger years, to his name. “Control” is a rather dark student-like film that likely attracts a cult audience. “Nowhere Boy” is dark, but in a different way, with Kristin Scott Thomas taking on the budget flick as John Lennon’s stern guardian aunt.
“Going Electric” will see the penmanship and direction of James Mangold, who also brought us “Walk the Line” (2005), an Oscar-winning film about Johnny Cash. I am a little nervous about Mangold, as most recently he’s been working on a new, more flakey Indiana Jones movie, but he did a decent job on “Ford vs. Ferrari”, so I am holding out some hope. His backers are much loftier than those of screenwriter Matt Greenhalgh.
Most of us love biopics because they give us an inside edge. They piece together both the unknown and the important facets of people’s lives. They are satisfying.
“The best documentaries can make you laugh, cry, and think. They can change your perspective on a particular subject, whether through a historical, political, or cultural lens. Good documentaries make you feel like you’ve learned something new about the world and yourself. A great documentary scratches at something deep inside people, often revealing truths that have been hidden.” (Paul Jenkins)
For these reasons, good screenwriting is critical, and I hope you now understand why today’s blog about the new Whitney Houston biopic has steered away from all of the hoopla. There is no place for glitz in this film genre.
What does your personal magic ball say about “I Wanna Dance With Somebody”?
Now take what you’ve learned and play today’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” Quiz of the Day:
1. Download Quizefy app.
2. 250 free gems will be instantly deposited in your name
3. Start playing immediately for free
4. Have fun and Strut Your Smart!