What Happened, Miss Simone? Behind the Music with Nina Simone

WHAT HAPPENED, MISS SIMONE?

DIRECTED BY: Liz Garbus

STARRING: Contained Simone’s family and friends (mostly in archived footage)

GENRE: Documentary

YEAR: 2015

COUNTRY: United States

On stage Nina Simone was known for her utterly free, uninhibited musical expression, which enthralled audiences and attracted life-long fans. But amid the violent, haunting, and senseless day-to-day of the civil rights era in 1960s America, Simone struggled to reconcile her artistic identity and ambition with her devotion to a movement. Culled from hours of autobiographical tapes, this new film unveils the unmitigated ego of a brilliant artist and the absurdities of her time. At the height of her fame Simone walked away from her family, country, career and fans, to move to Liberia and give up performing. The story of her life leading up to that event poses the question, ‘how does royalty stomp around in the mud and still walk with grace?’

What Happened, Miss Simone has been sitting in my Netflix queue since release and I finally decided to make my way around to watching it. I actually don’t know much about Nina Simone, just that she is incredibly iconic in the world of music. For example, prior to this documentary and article, the only song I knew of hers was “Sinnerman” and that was only from that piss-poor of a film Cellular. While Miss Simone took the more traditional documentary route with family and friends portraying themselves, the film felt more personal than most documentaries on Netflix. What I enjoyed is that they covered Nina Simone’s major role in African-American activism, even if it made me uncomfortable.

So, the biggest issue I had with the documentary is that I just wasn’t overly into it. It’s a shame, I know. I’m just not extremely interested in the life of Nina Simone. This unfortunately put me into the wrong mind set going into the film, and it made me more uncomfortable than anything. Simone was rather critical and radical against the “white devil” and this made me want to shut it off. I didn’t, but damn do white people have such a negative stigma.

PROS:

  • Traditional documentary style.
  • Felt personal.
  • Fantastic score.

CONS:

  • Be ready to be uncomfortable.
  • Racial vibes are high.

SCORE: 6.5 / 10

If you have any suggestions for films/TV/Games/Music/Anime for me to review, drop me a comment!

Remember: Like Media In Review @ Facebook Follow Media in Review on Twitter.

All check out my lengthier video game reviews over at Nerd Bacon Games.

Brandon Stuhr

Who am I? Just some guy who decided to start writing on the Internet years ago and now operates his own brand and site. Owner/Operator of Modern Neon Media, I make all kinds of niche content to suit my interests at the time. DIY Enthusiast, Brewmaster extraordinaire, and avid freak for geek culture. Follow on my socials for a more "on" version of me.

Leave a Reply