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Plot: A documentary about the life and legend Nina Simone, an American singer, pianist, and civil rights activist labeled the "High Priestess of Soul." Runtime: 101 mins Release Date: 24 Jun 2015
"What Happened, Miss Simone?" pulls you right into the life of the little girl, Eunice Waymon, who becomes Nina Simone. Through skillful use of archival audio and film, interviews and other contextual materials, and clearly with a genuine appreciation and love for the subject, Liz Garbus has found the thread that strings all of this material together; the genius and passion of a driven artist. Hearing the familiar songs with their stories, and learning about Nina's life journey, all somehow fits powerfully with contemporary racial issues in the US. This film can serve to <more>
educate, and inspire, as we continue to navigate the tortuous path to justice. Thank you for making this film, and bringing Nina Simone to even more people.
The Director Has Surely Taken The Easy Way Out! (by investinagirl)
Why wait till the end of the movie to finally suggest that the reason why Nina Simone was unhappy was because she was bipolar, then maybe we can follow through the entire movie knowing that we're just looking at a crazy woman! I'm confused is she the one to blame for the beatings she took from her husband, for living in a time of racism where it was not even permitted to discuss trauma, for being turned down to go to a school because she was African-American; only to be acknowledged after her death,for her political involvement with civil rights movement, which has always been <more>
considered taboo, for being poor, for living in fear of a lynching, for not being permitted to be a mother - just for living in fear! Hey! While you're at it, you can just write her out of the movie all together and just say this is how you become bipolar! This is what happens to women when they are given too much responsibility! We love that story! She can't take care of herself. As long as the men took care of the bills, she couldn't possibly understand the bills. Even in her final moments, she is not heard. It all falls on deaf ears Nina! They're not listening! They can't hear you! They gave you the pills so you could just keep playing! It's three strikes and you're out - African-American, woman, mental illness! I can't imagine a place anywhere and in anytime that a woman like this was not spotted on the street and cared for? Was that the state of mind during the civil rights movement? Can you answer me that question? You are telling me not one person, not a friend,family, or fan came to take care of her? I mean manic-depression has been around quite a long time! Centuries! There has always been people who have it and have been around to treat it. It didn't just happen in the last ten years! I'm sick of the big finale of bipolarism/mental illness! Why not do what has always been done when a writer/director doesn't know how to end a story - just staple a deuce ex machine to it and call it a day! Perfect rags to riches story, hey? Why even mention a mental illness? So those of us who suffer can say, well that's why we'll never be an important part of society! Or those of us who don't suffer as much can button it with, oh thank heavens she got help! Maybe a better ending might be triumphant? The husband is put in jail, finally justice served! By the way, since we are airing out the dirty laundry, what about the husband? What was his mental illness diagnosis? That he was a man and times were different? He gets a pass? The daughter? Anyone with the correct information knows that it runs in the family. How about tieing things up with a prompting of intolerance? Or don't women, African-American and those suffering with mental illness deserve some tolerance? And don't think I didn't miss that you are quick to label an abused woman as bipolar, which is why I asked the question at the beginning. Isn't this what the movie was about? Creating more intolerance! That is why they smacked the mental illness label onto Nina and the ending of the movie: so we could all feel like we were in the same company with the intolerant, nice and cosy. It is a mirror of our intolerance. It's just an easier explanation than and less taboo to just say she lost her fame because of bipolarism and easier to diagnose as she is a woman. Whatever, bravo to the director for an ignorant message! I loved seeing the original footage, but the the director should be cremated! Nina you're not alone. You were never alone. We women are all still dieing silently - African-American, or pathetically diagnosed with a mental illness - for all our tries.
If you have Netflix streaming, you really should see this fascinating documentary!! Though I lived through the 50s and 60s, I don't remember Nina Simone born in 1933 in North Carolina as Eunice Waymon except in a very obscure way: an expatriated American icon of some sort. Yet, she had unbelievable talents that broke all boundaries of instrumental and vocal performing. From childhood, she was trained in classical piano and was ready to become the first Black Woman to perform in Carnegie Hall. However, due to her life circumstances, she became something else. She became someone with <more>
totally unique abilities—abilities and feelings that transcended all types of music, poetry, and social activism. Yet, she had a very tragic life that is a story in itself.I have never seen a documentary that so perfectly captures a life of a very complicated person as well as this one did!! What's equally amazing is that there were so many video clips available from so many different venues and over so much time to use in putting this story personal story together. How does one talk about Nina Simone and her life? How do you classify her music or performing skills? Is it classical piano—gospel—jazz—soul— folk—social activism —poetry—or what? She wrote many songs that only she could written: she was the first black American to really express, in music, what so many people could only express in words Malcolm X, James Baldwin , plays Lorraine Hansberry or poetry Langston Hughes . And--as a black WOMAN--she expressed the anger that black men could not hope to at the time as in "Mississippi Goddam."Her songs are also about freedom as well as her search to find her black identity as in "To be Young Gifted and Black" inspired by Loranie Hansberry's play .I'm convinced that the only way—or at least the best way--to BEGIN to understand Nina Simone is through this great documentary that follows her life from her childhood to death in the south of France!! Both her daughter and her former husband are narrators of the documentary, which gives us even more insight into her struggles.
Whether or not you've heard of Miss Simone, you really should give this film a try. (by MartinHafer)
I've got to be up front about this...I don't remember hearing anything about Nina Simone before I watched this film. While she was a very famous jazz performer, her meteoric career all but fizzled by the time I was a very young child. I also am not a particular fan of modern jazz, either. So in some ways, I am not the ideal audience for this wonderful new documentary from Liz Garbus. However, because of my work in the mental health field, the film really resonated with me and I think you should give it a look as well. Apparently, Netflix ALSO thinks you should be watching it, as they <more>
send out a mass emailing to many people recommending you see this new film--which you now can thanks to their streaming service.Nina was a child prodigy at the piano. However this was back in the 1930s...and she was a tiny black girl growing up in the South. Yet despite the racially charged climate, she had a spark of genius-- such that despite the times, she was helped by people to help realize her dream of being a musician. However, instead of the concert classical pianist she was trained to be, she sort of accidentally fell into the jazz industry and was soon known at least as much as her singing as her genius at the piano. This led to a lot of financial success in the 1950s and into the 60s and life was looking grand for this lady.So how, then, at the height of her fame did Simone's career start to slip? And why did she walk away from this life? This confusing journey about mental illness, to me, is the most interesting part of this documentary. While it's not perfect a lot of her more bizarre behaviors later in life are omitted from the story as well as her second marriage , the film is extremely rare in quality and is extremely well made. Considering that Simone died from cancer over a decade ago, this should have been a very tough film to make. Yet, fortunately, they had recordings and diaries of Simone speaking her mind and explaining her strange journey through life. Garbus also was fortunate to have Simone's daughter's cooperation as well as her first husband and friends--giving you amazing access into Simone's world as well as into her mental illness that impacted but never destroyed her career. This sort of access alone is more than enough reason to see this film.By the way, if you like this film, also trying watching another great Garbus documentary, Bobby Fischer Against the World. The character in this film is, in many ways, much like Simone--with lots of brilliance as well as lots of personal demons.
Rating: ☆☆☆½ out of 4 This film is highly recommended.In brief: A documentary that expertly shows the rise and fall of a gifted performer.GRADE: B+A riveting documentary entitled What Happened, Miss Simone? by Liz Garbus shows the tragedy of a singer-songwriter through her journals, interviews, and rare archival footage.The film covers similar ground as we watch the downward spiral of yet another gifted performer. Talented at a young age and trained as a classical pianist, Nina Simone fought against poverty and prejudice to make her mark in the music industry. Like Ms. Winehouse, Miss <more>
Simone was a manic depressive performer on the road to fame and fortune. She too dealt with an abusive family member, her husband and manager Andrew Stroud, had numerous bouts with alcohol and violent mood swings amid her frequent mental disorders. At the peak of her career, her finances were a shamble as was her marriage and she became an advocate for the civil rights movement, although her methods became extremely volatile and radicalized in her later years. This documentary never distributed in regional movie theaters and available now on Netflix uses her concert performances and more archival footage from famous celebrities like Hugh Hefner, Dick Gregory, and Stokely Carmichael to narrate Miss Simone's turbulent life. But the most effective interview comes from her daughter Lisa Simone Kelly who narrates the film with a grace and understanding that is genuinely moving. She eloquently reflects back on her life memories about an unhappy home and a mentally ill mother incapable of loving her unconditionally. Ms. Garbus, the director, offers numerous songs from her repertoire that highlight the talented jazz vocalist, but too often the filmmaker sacrifices these vivid live performances and never plays out the entire concert piece which undercuts the essence of Miss Simone legend. There is a segment with Miss Simone singing Janis Ian's Stars that is so visceral and raw in its brilliance. There are also some gaps about certain times in her life that would have been more riveting if the filmmaker have been granted more access to the early archives of this singer. Nevertheless, the film tells a gripping story of a woman who found fame and fortune but lost her way to find real happiness.Ms. Garbus' tribute to one of the greatest jazz vocalists is worthy of your attention.Visit my blog at: www.dearmoviegoer.comANY COMMENTS: Please contact me at: [email protected]
You know people goes through thing, but when a person just stops what they are doing and disappears, that's scary. The film explained is ALL. Excellent
Very compelling documentary. (by subxerogravity)
The documentary does a great job of telling the story of Nina Simone, though archive footage and interviews by those close to her, like her own daughter. The documentary seems to focus on her erratic behavior, which caused her career to take a downfall.I thought the filmmakers did a great job of actually expressing her behavior. It really captured the changes in her life from moment to moment. The way it just cut from one time to another made me feel the passion and understand how Nina must have felt when she got into the Civil Rights movement. I did not know much about Nina Simone before the <more>
doc, only that people would tell me she was great, but the documentary showed me how great she was. It did a good job of connecting her with the viewer.Catch it on Netflix.
The telling of Nina's story through the words of her family and old footage from her as well is truly moving and unsettling. I felt the closing in of the events that lead to her fame, fall, and fatality. It seems as if everyone was affected by the power of her illness which was fueled by the times. I am not sure if one accelerated the other. Growing up in the south and traveling all over the world does something to you. You become enlightened and the junk that was going on in the US over race was ludicrous and enraging. I am not sure if I could deal with that back then either. Nina was <more>
truly ahead of her time but got stuck in time due to the violence of those times. I love the way she expressed her disdain for the instrument of her fame and I also loved the attitude she had about her own voice. I grew up listening to this strange voice and at first I could not figure out if it was a man or woman until further into the album. This documentary is a timely tribute to the singer and it also allowed us to see what she was going through and why she fell off the face of the earth for a while. I look at her from a different pair of eyes now and I am grateful to know her story.
Reminder That the Civil Rights Movement Is Not a Thing of the Past (by evanston_dad)
Two of the 2015 Academy Award nominees for Best Documentary Feature dealt with artists specifically singers who were ultimately undone by their self-destructive tendencies. "Amy" told the sad story of Amy Winehouse, whose struggles with addiction and eating disorders cut her life and career tragically short. "What Happened, Miss Simone?" is about Nina Simone, who used her music to fuel the anger of the civil rights movement until her flame burnt out. Both women changed the nature of their art form; both women were taken from the world much too soon.But for all the <more>
similarities, the stories of the two women are quite different. Amy Winehouse is a pathetic figure. We watch as she passively lets fame destroy her. Nina Simone, on the other hand, is full of rage, rage that vents itself through her music. If Winehouse lets strife happen to her, we get the sense that Simone brings it on herself. It's as if she can't handle the anger that a sense of injustice toward the world stokes inside her and destroys herself as a way to be rid of it.Watching Simone sing "Mississippi Goddamn" while seeing images of the Civil Rights movement, images evocative of the recent violence toward blacks perpetrated by law enforcement officials throughout the country, brought home to me how far we still need to go in our efforts toward racial equality and why the slogan "Black Lives Matter" should be heeded by all.Grade: A-