• Film,  Miss N,  Music

    Amazing Grace – the Long-Awaited Aretha Franklin Documentary

    “She can sing anything. She can sing Three Blind Mice. Any-thing,” the Reverend James Cleveland tells the congregation gathered at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in South Los Angeles. It’s January 1972, and Cleveland is welcoming the congregation to the 2-day recording that Franklin is about to begin —  a recording that will go on to become the best-selling album of her mighty career. The late Cleveland, who died in 1991, was the best person for the job of introducing Franklin and setting the scene for the recording. As Franklin’s father — he, too, no longer with us — will later relay towards the end of the session, Cleveland…

  • Miss N

    Free Solo

    File this one under Movies That Simply Must Be Seen on the Big Screen. If you were a fan of Meru, the 2015 documentary from Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi about Chin’s ascent to the 21 000 foot-high Meru Peak in the Indian Himalayas, you’ll definitely appreciate the magnificent feat Free Solo achieves. This one turns the thrill level up a whole dozen notches more, following climber Alex Honnold, as he seeks to make it to the top of El Capitan in Yosemite – without the kind of traditional gear that Chin and his crew, and basically most climbers, usually use. For that is what it means to free solo,…

  • Miss N,  Music

    It’s Janet. Miss Jackson, if you’re Nasty.

    When I first moved to New York, Prince was playing at Madison Square Garden. I wanted to go. A friend who had been living here for years before I did, told me not to bother because I’d be paying $200 and he’d be too tiny to see anyway. He didn’t tour New York again before his death. Never seeing Prince in one of his legendary 3-hour concerts will forever be a major regret in my life. Thing is, seeing concerts is also a major planning operation in New York. You have to be on top of when the tickets go on sale, so they don’t sell out. You have to…

  • Miss N,  Music

    Arctic Monkeys in Queens.

    “I don’t like it, man. I just can’t get into it. It’s too lounge-y for me. It’s like a solo album, or something…” “Yeah, it took me a few listens, but then I was hooked. It’s a phenomenal album, man! You need to listen again.” Waiting in line to get into Forest Hills Stadium, in Queens to see Arctic Monkeys, I was privy to a bunch of friends debating the merits of the band’s latest album, Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino. Their sixth album, it really is a sonic step-away from the previous tracks released by Alex Turner and co. As Pitchfork notes, a “left-turn if ever there was one,” with Turner…

  • Film,  Miss N

    Blindspotting

    At a time when so many incredible indie films are being made, Blindspotting sits well amongst the list as one of the must-sees. It’s a feature film that channels the talent of spoken word artists, Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal, into an urgent, compelling fresh take on contemporary America. On screen, as in real life, the actors are friends, co-workers, and co-writers — in the film their co-writing takes place more spontaneously, in between deliveries in their company truck, rather than in room with pen and paper (or keys and a laptop). Diggs, a Tony-winning Hamilton alum, plays Collin, who’s spent a year in prison and has three days left of his…