Sep 27, 2018
Welcome back to Documentary Thursdays! Third documentary this week, which is somewhat unusual for us, but there are so many being released right now by Netflix and in theaters that this was bound to happen. Today’s Netflix Original is a much lighter viewing, following the life of the legendary Quincy Jones. For other light-hearted documentaries, check out “Disneynature: Born in China” (Episode #067), “Faces Places” (Episode #130), “Stop Making Sense” (Episode #179), “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” (Episode #193), and “44 Pages” (Episode #221). And if you have any suggestions, let me know at onemoviepunch.com.
Here’s a quick promo.
Today’s movie is “Quincy” (2018), the Netflix Original documentary written and directed by Rashida Jones and Alan Hicks. The documentary follows the life of Quincy Jones, perhaps the most influential music producer of all time, and major influencer in mainstreaming Black America into popular culture. The documentary contains a combination of Quincy narrating his own life, interviews with friends and admirers, and a look into his everyday life in his old age.
Here’s the thing with Quincy Jones. Unless you’ve done your research on him, you probably don’t know just how influential he has been, nor how prolific his credits are. 34 film scores, 16 studio albums, and countless production credits, including Herb Alpert, Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Tony Bennett, Ray Charles, Sammy Davis Jr., Aretha Franklin, Dizzy Gillespie, Lesley Gore, Michael Jackson, Dinah Washington, and Frank Sinatra, among many, many others. And he did some or all of that songcraft, whether that was producing, conducting, composing, or arranging. It’s one thing to be a popular culture figurehead that has a team of artists working for you. It’s quite another to get that work done yourself. James Brown may have been the hardest working man in show business, but I’m pretty sure Quincy Jones was a close second.
“Quincy” is obviously a work of love and also of concern, brought to life in part by Quincy’s daughter Rashida Jones, and bouncing between a chronological narrative of Quincy’s life and his more modern lifestyle and health troubles. Bouncing between the two narratives can be pretty jarring, especially because I was way more interested in his production credits and his influence than his work in later years. In a strange way, it gave the documentary about one of the greatest arrangers and producers of our time a weird, almost bad rhythm. I would have almost appreciated two documentaries: one about his life leading up to now, and one about his life now after suffering from health problems. Or perhaps just one focus and cutting about a half hour from the running time.
And because this is a work of love, we don’t dip at all into some of the controversies that have surrounded Quincy’s life. I’m not talking about the multiple marriages and children, which was actually treated rather matter-of-factly as either being mutual choice or his fault. I am talking about some of the more scandalous comments from his recent Vulture interview, but also other comments that have been made over the years. And honestly, I’m okay with that not being included in this documentary, because this is how he would like to be remembered. He’s also done more for black empowerment and advancement than most folks, which doesn’t forgive any of his flaws, but certainly gives them the right perspective, especially in retrospect.
“Quincy” (2018) is a comprehensive documentary about the life of Quincy Jones, one of the most prolific and influential music producers in history. A combination of modern-day health struggles and chronological look at his life, Rashida Jones and Alan Hicks create a heart-filled look at the man and his work. Fans of music or movies or art or just people should definitely enjoy this film, and I can guarantee that you will learn something you did not know.
Rotten Tomatoes: 86%
One Movie Punch: 7.4/10
“Quincy” (2018) is rated TV-MA and is currently streaming on Netflix and in select theaters.