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'A Last Goodbye' is an intimate look into the life and times of Amy Winehouse. This in depth programme chronicles her rise to pop superstardom and also offers a sensitive portrayal of a transformative star and the inner demons that inspired her work and eventually caused her untimely death. Her battle with addiction and her courtship with self destruction were well documented through the press. Even her troubled relationship with Blake Fielder-Civil was played out in front of British media. But despite this backdrop Amy Winehouse will be remembered for her unique song writing style fusing R & B, soul and jazz influences sang through a powerful deep contralto vocal. The 'Back to Black' album symbolised her huge success at this time which led to an astonishing 5 Grammy Awards, 'the most wins by a female artist in a single night'. This insightful programme is a definitive testimonial to an incredible music icon covering the start of her career up until her death. Amy Winehouse (14/09/1983 to 23/07/2011).
Since I don't live in the UK, and I only know of Amy Winehouse through her music and even more from her "celebrity" scandals, I only thought it sadly ironic that she died in an almost hawk-like view of the very media she hated.
Amy was an original, to be sure, and she was the Kurt Cobain of her genre - solid, old-fashioned blue-eyed soul, the kind that now has singers like Leona Lewis, Adele and even new-on-the-scene Eliza Doolittle, going retro in style and sound and singing their hearts out with new twists on old standards. Amy was unsure of herself, even in 2004, but with the sudden worldwide success of her first album "Frank," she exploded confidently and headlong into a industry that loves little insecure artists like Judy Garland and Josephine Baker and then chews them up and spits them out, squeezing them for all the money they can out of them while they cry alone and eventually drop and/or turn to drugs and/or overdose on the excess and the constant demands of what they locked them into. Luckily, Amy resisted - at first.
This DVD, with all it's facts and linear figures, and for all the interviews and accolades given to her by her peers, her friends and critics, there is one constant. There is an overriding sadness throughout, because as you look at her freshly-scrubbed slightly chubby face in 2003-2004, with all of her optimism and confidence, you know the clock is ticking. Only 7 short years later, she would die a common junkie's death, and with all her millions of albums sold, with all of the fans and the recognition, in the end her only real friend was the hallucinations she found through drugs and alcohol.
Here's the technical end of the DVD itself: the only real features are the chapter stops, four of them, each one chronicling the four phases in her story arc presented here:
Chapter One - the young lionness that was Amy, how she fought to have her way on her first album, and the unexpected fame that came with it Chapter Two - the awards, the fun, then the backlash from the sudden 24-hour spotlight on a lifestyle she never was ashamed to hide - at first Chapter Three - the public won't stop wanting more, more, more, and even though she finds love with enabler Blake, the pull of her addictions start to rip her apart Chapter Four - her last live appearance in Belgrade, her seclusion, and her eventual death, and who is to blame? The media, her addictive personality, or something - or someone - else?
The interviews range from gossipers to music critics, to intimates who (allegedly) reveal their conversations with her father Mitch. There also is a tremendous amount of interviews, pictures, and music and videos by Amy interspersed about, which makes this a very valuable tool for the uninitiated.
The DVD is all at once a tribute, a bit of a video gossip rag, a discography and videography, and for sure it's a love letter to a woman who tried, tried, tried to be what she wanted and needed to be to everyone: a singer, a role model, but most of all just a nice Jewish girl who only wanted to be loved. This story has been told a hundred times over the decades - some of the more high-profile names include Dinah Washington, Janis Joplin, Marilyn Monroe and so many more tragic tales of singers who only wanted to be who they were but were destroyed by the fame monster that comes with their particular art. It's also just long enough without boring the viewer (at just over 2 hours), but I understand that the subject matter can only be talked about for so long.
In the end I give this DVD 5 stars, only because for anyone who's never heard of Amy Winehouse (which I think can't be possible) this would be a great treasure trove of material to inform the viewer about the wonderful but way too short life of one of the bigger driven, sad, wonderfully musical talents of the 21st century.
Enjoy the DVD, and pass it along, because we will only have memories like this, good or bad, and it's unusual that a biography gets it right without it being slanted one way or another. Thanks to the good people at Entertain Me Productions and once again, enjoy this video.
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