I was prepared to write that La Vie en Rose, a musical biopic about French legend Edith Piaf, was a breath of fresh air in the genre. For the first hour or so, it didn’t feel anything like a high-class, glamorized and elongated episode of VH1’s Behind the Music.
But by hour number two, and with another 20 minutes to go or so, this slow moving trainwreck (the singer’s life not the actual movie) simply ran out of steam. I’m sorry to say that I didn’t stick around for the ending. Would it have made a difference? I can’t say for sure.
Gorgeously shot, with a performance for the ages from Marion Cotillard, La Vie en Rose is mostly interesting because I knew little about the life of Edith Piaf. Born the same year as American legend Billie Holiday, Piaf’s life was one of constant struggle and will to survive. If they had named this movie “Edith Piaf: One tough Bitch” I’m not sure I’d disagree with that assessment. Nor do I think it’s a pejorative to call her a tough bitch. Piaf survived against great odds, including being raised by a circus-act father and alternately by a bunch of hookers. Her entire life is one of willful surivival.
Though I recommend the movie with heavy reservations, I can say that I’d love to read a book about her life and even go out and pick up an album or two by her. And maybe that’s the highest praise you can say about this slow-paced biopic. Interesting life, but not necessarily an interesting movie.
La Vie en Rose is out now on DVD from Picturehouse Studios.
Jack Johnson has been a pleasure to follow over the past eight years or so. Like a lot of music lovers, I first took notice of him when he guested on the 1999 G. Love album Philadelphonic. It was a rendition of “Rodeo Clown.” Later, after he cut his first album with producer J.P. Plumier, Brushfire Fairytales, it seemed like he became an overnight sensation, but truth be told he was out touring and winning over fans the way musicians should.
After he exploded in late 2001 it seemed like he could have been a flash in the pan. Instead, he created his own record label, built a studio in Hawaii and kept churning out albums full of his laid-back acoustic vibe. He wasn’t reinventing the wheel, and sometimes his lyrics where clumsy and angular, but there was something about him that just felt so right. His music just made you want to stand up and sing and run on the beach or just chill out with a cocktail, much in the same way that Jimmy Buffet’s music does.
So the other day, I’m driving home from work and I’ve got the radio on, which is something I never do. Low and behold Jack’s got a new single out and a new album on the way. The first single, “If I had Eyes” is sorta clumsy, but it also has some great melodies that hits in all the right spots and even has Jack’s familiar guitar tone.
From his website: ?It has a nice cinematic ride through the whole thing,? Johnson says of the album. The avid surfer and environmentalist also lets us know that his solar-powered studio isn?t the only thing that is eco-friendly?Static,? his fifth album, was recorded directly to tape, forgoing the modern-day comforts of computer edits.
Mp3: “If I had Eyes”
Sleep Through the Static is out February 5 via Brushfire Records.