Jennifer Hudson as Aretha Franklin

It would easy to go all hatey on Respect, a biopic of the life of Aretha Franklin, but instead let’s take it for what it is – the authorised version, the Stations of the Cross of a towering talent who even old, sick and with her voice in ruins could yank a tear, if not sobs, from the coldest of hearts. As we can see at the end of the film in actual footage from Aretha’s performance at the 2015 Kennedy Center tribute to Carole King which, perhaps unwisely, is shown over the end credits. Jennifer Hudson never quite manages anything similar, brilliant though she is. Choose your biblical metaphor – she’s Daniel … Read more


Savion Glover and Tyheesha Collins in Bamboozled

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 6 February The first minstrel show, 1843 On this day in 1843, the Virginia Minstrels led by Dan Emmett became the first full-length black minstrel show in the USA. They’d tested and previewed the show at other venues but it was on 6 February that the show opened at the Bowery Amphitheater, New York. The show had a three-act structure – four guys sitting in a semi-circle, singing songs, telling jokes and just generally being entertaining; followed by a front-of-curtain variety segment; finishing off with a spoof/skit/satire piece. Minstrelsy goes back as far as you care to look – to the … Read more