3 Stars

Respect (2021)

Toward the end of 2010, Rolling Stone released a list of the top 100 vocalists of all time. I remember at the time being a bit shocked that Elvis was not at the top of the list (he was 3). When I saw that #1 was Aretha Franklin, I thought to myself “Oh, well, okay. That makes sense.”

People who think Aretha was not a good singer are people who most likely do not exist, or at least people I have not met or heard of. Right from the beginning of Respect, we know she is being told at a young age that her voice is a gift from God. The movie is clear in telling us this, but not entirely in giving us much more.

3 Stars Movies

Judy (2019)

It is more than likely true that other Hollywood stars had problems behind the scenes before the arrival of Judy Garland, but few would become as well known. As a young teen, Francis Gumm became Judy Garland, and the ruby red-slippered star of The Wizard of Oz had a tumultuous and wild start, to say the least. At MGM (where she stayed until 1950), she was looked over by the tyrannical Louis B. Mayer (who referred to the 4 ft 11 Garland as his “little hunchback”).

After the death of her father, the family was run with an iron fist by Judy’s domineering mother. The pills that Garland had to take at a young age started her down the path of drug addiction, and her cries for help to her mother fell on deaf ears, making it a surprise to no one that she would later refer to her mother as the “real wicked witch of the west.” Future husbands (she would marry five times) only added to a crushed soul in desperate need of care and understanding.

But hot dog, could she carry a tune.