The Gentrification of Nina Simone: Stop This Movie

Comments

1
I was just now listening to Sinnerman. This may be the worst idea ever. Well, maybe the whole movie could be done with white actors in blackface, but it's really hard to come up with bad ideas sometimes.
2
So, latinos & latinas are not people of color? They're white? I'm not disputing the question you raise about the appropriateness of the choice - I'm questioning your unilateral declaration that all latinos/latinas are white.
3
On the other hand, biopics are always travesties, by definition; this particular travesty is no worse than the inevitable travesty anyone else would have made. Don't watch biopics; get some Nina Simone records and videos instead. SPL has a ton of books, CDs, and DVDs.
4
Sorry. I mixed up your comments about Saldana with your comments about Cynthia Mort. I stand corrected.
5
Getting approval from the family usually ensures a hagiography.

6
@2 actually, the census defined them that way until the latter part of last century. The current definition is quite different.
7
I was listening to Mississippi Goddam (Live 1964). She said during the recording, "I mean every word of it." and "This is a showtune, but the show hasn't been written."
8
for perspective, jennifer love-hewitt played audrey hepburn, which kind of makes this seem more reasonable...
9
Strangely, I could see Mary J. Blige pulling it off.

With a completely different creative team and script, of course.
10
I LOVE Nina Simone. I'd love to defend her here. But since when are biopics supposed to be some kind of high art form that honor artists in a thoughtful and intelligent way? Can anyone name a single great biopic? One that captures the spirit of the subject without injecting a bunch of fantasy bullshit? By their very nature, biopics stink, except the ones that fall in the campy, cult-classic category. Wishing horrible art will suddenly become thoughtful art for this one person is like wishing a tiger to change its stripes. What's the point?

But a bigger issue is censorship and this call to halt another person's artistic expression, even if it is crappy. Do all artists of all art forms need to get approval from Nina's estate before depicting her? It all comes off a bit holier than thou.

People who care about Nina Simone will just keep on listening to her amazing music. That's all we need.
11
Fretting that some Oscarbait movie turning out bad could be a problem for Nina Simone's legacy? That overstates Hollywood's power. Worse yet, it's disrespectful to Simone's power.

Ignorant of it, more like. How dare you worry about ME, she'd say.
12
I think the gentrification of Ms. Simone happened long before this movie came around.
13
@10,

There are definitely biopics out there that qualify as excellent cinema (although I can't really say whether they represented the subject's life really well). Two that come to mind: Raging Bull and The Aviator, and I think it's not coincidental that both were directed by Martin Scorsese.
14
Easy solution: replace Zoe Saldana with Lauryn Hill (the obvious choice for the lead), and the movie never gets finished!
15
I admire her music and her brave activism, but she was definitely a mess as a person, especially in later life. I remember when she was supposed to do an hour of the morning arts-and-interview show on WBUR Boston (The Connection, iirc) about a decade ago, for what would have been a completely fawning treatment. She finally showed up a half-hour after the show started, belligerent and clearly altered. The host was practically despondent at the way someone he so greatly wanted to admire was acting.
16
You may not be shouty, but asserting that no white (or possibly latina) woman should be allowed at the helm of the first Nina Simone biopic is sure as hell simple. Clearly many members of the creative team, especially Cynthia Mort, shouldn't be allowed within a mile of the film, but that doesn't automatically exclude all white female directors as a class from being capable of producing a film worthy of the subject. The right director for the project could be a black woman, a white woman, a latino man, or even a biracial, bisexual, differently-abled trans-man. The package Cynthia Mort comes in isn't the problem; it's that her alteration of the life of a transformative cultural figure to suit her own artistic vision shows that the film won't be about Nina Simone, musician, activist, and icon, but about Cynthia Mort, special little snowflake. That's not a racial thing; it's a clueless, entitled douchebag thing.
17
the 1st Nina Simone: Remixed CD gentrified her for me.

MY NAME IS PEACHES!
18
Sheesh, not only do they have a white director they're using a white actress too? I thought the blackface joke was a joke not what the movie was going to be... or are they going to whiten her up along with giving it the Hoellywould-Treatment?
19
@16 Those things usually go hand in hand, but I agree w/ you. The distinction is important.
20
I was terribly upset over the ridiculous Oliver Stone biopic of Jim Morrison. Somehow life went on.
21
Holy white cracker, thanks for that video.
22
@15 I heard that interview too, and then attended her concert in SBoston on the waterfront (Harborside?) that same evening. A doctor friend of mine came with me and said, "She's been overmedicated. Clear as day. She needs a new doctor."

I'd seen Nina Simone before at Symphony Hall and it was glorious. This last show she did in Boston was off the charts ridiculous/sad. She forgot she'd played Here Comes the Sun, so she sang it all over again. In the middle of one of her musician's solos she sat down on the stage, reeling, and had the hardest time getting back to her piano. When she called out for requests, and I yelled out "Sinnerman" everyone around me hushed me, saying, "you want to kill her?"

I read her autobiography and clearly she made all kinds of crappy choices from the crap hand she was dealt. But she left the US for its racist policies to end up where? South of France. Not Botswana or Kenya or Zimbabwe.

If the biopic is good there will be vindication.
23
@13 I thought of two I like: American Splendor and Ed Wood (the latter is probably all fiction). But I'll bet a million bucks this film will be just like Coal Miner's Daughter, Walk the Line, Ray, Sweet Dreams, the Doors, etc, in it will be entertaining, have fun/funny moments, and totally kick-ass performances, but follow that same tiresome, plodding, identical formula; ugh, it just gets so agonizing in the latter two-thirds.

Biographies always inspire Award-winning performances, many of which are deserved. But it annoys me that reviewers equate an amazing performance with a great film, when it's usually more like a case of a director essentially following a great actor around with a camera.
24
Zoe Saldana is not Caucasian. Never heard of Nina Simone before except for this controversy. Two biopics that I loved were the one about Buddy Holly starring Gary Busey and La Bamba (Ritchie Valens) starring Lou Diamond Phillips.
25
@10, @13, @23: I'm an avowed fan of Julie Taymor's Frida Kahlo film, though I am aware that's a polarizing example.