Monday, February 29, 2016

Play Review: "Romeo and Juliet" at the Synetic Theater

Last week I went to the Synetic Theater to see one of their "wordless Shakespeare" plays, Romeo and Juliet. Because these plays are silent, it helps if you already know the story, and who doesn't know what Romeo and Juliet is all about? I had seen A Midsummer Night's Dream (read that blog post here) and really enjoyed it, so I thought I would give this one a go.

The play started out strangely (as most Synetic productions do), with people dancing on stage with gears, representing the inner workings of a clock. This theme of the "tick tock" of time runs throughout the production, seeming to represent how quickly the two teenagers fell in love with one another (I think they knew each other for a few days?), but also (unbeknownst to them) how little time they had left.
The entire stage looked like the inside of a clock. Image found here.
We have the short argument in the beginning to show the rift between the Capulet and Montague families, and then see Mercutio (played by Philip Fletcher) trying to cheer up lovesick Romeo (then in love with Rosaline, whom we never meet). Mercutio convinces Romeo to go to a masquerade ball held by the Capulet family. The two sneak in, and the party is in full swing. The dance numbers were well-choreographed, and the music was eerie yet lively. All of the actors were great dancers, and the dance scenes were some of my favorites in the entire show.

Image found here.
Of course, it is at the ball where Romeo and Juliet meet. There is an instant connection between them (played by Zana Gankhuyag and Irina Kavsadze, respectively), and they quickly fall in love; they find any opportunity to be together and to touch one another. The two actors are very believable, and you feel like you really are seeing young love blossom on the stage.

Image found here.

"And palm to palm is holy palmers' kiss." Image found here.
Juliet's balcony. Image found here.
But their love must be kept a secret, since there is a feud between their two families. That bad blood manifests itself when Mercutio and Tybalt (played by Ryan Sellers) fight each other. The fight scene is extremely dynamic and very moving, despite the lack of weapons. These two actors really got into it, and I was quite impressed how strong and flexible they were!

Image found here.
Tybalt kills Mercutio, so then Romeo kills Tybalt, but then Romeo is banished. But with the help of Juliet's nurse (played by Kathy Gordon), Romeo is able to sneak into Juliet's bedroom before he has to leave. We see the lovers kissing and dancing, and then a large sheet is pulled onto the stage so that the audience only sees their silhouettes. As the lights move behind the sheet, their shadows become larger and smaller as they touch one another and move together. I thought this was a creative way to show this scene, and it was done very tastefully.

At this point, Juliet is supposed to marry Paris (played by Randy Snight), but she refuses, which angers her father greatly. She runs off to see Friar Laurence, who knows of her relationship with Romeo and had married them in secret. He gives her a potion that will put her to sleep to make her seem dead; she will wake up later, at which point she and Romeo can run away together. But as we all know, the plan doesn't work out as hoped. Her family does think she's dead, but so does Romeo, and when he sees her in the tomb, he drinks a poison and kills himself. She wakes up, sees that Romeo is dead, and she stabs herself with his knife. Not a happy ending. 

But for such a sad story, I think the best part of this production was the physical comedy. There were so many "jokes" in the play (though not spoken), and I was laughing out loud at many different points. Fletcher as Mercutio was very funny, and Gordon as the nurse was hysterical and over-the-top (She was also quite good in Alice in Wonderland; read that blog post here.). I was impressed by all of the actors! Even though this is a less classic version of this play (with the gears and music that sounds like an EKG), if you have an open mind, I definitely recommend checking this play out!

*Click here to learn more about Synetic's teen program.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Concert: Carrie Underwood at the Verizon Center

Last night I saw Carrie Underwood perform at the Verizon Center during her Storyteller Tour. I wanted to see her since I'm such a big fan of country music, and I was so glad she was performing at a venue that is easy to get to (unlike Jiffy Lube Live, which usually hosts country music's biggest stars). I went by myself, since I wanted to sit up close (4th row!) and by the time I bought tickets only single seats were available. So it wasn't as much fun since I was alone, but I still enjoyed myself (and concerts are always good fodder for my blog!). And when the concert actually started on time, my mind was blown!

When I bought the tickets, I didn't even look to see who was opening for Underwood; I didn't even think about it! So I was pleasantly surprised when the Swon Brothers came on stage first (to the soundtrack of Super Mario Brothers, no less). They performed just a few songs, including their biggest hit "Later On" and a cover of "Want to Want Me."I was surprised how often the brothers split up on stage (since all of their songs are duets), and Zach Swon never even came to our side of the stage except to enter/exit. They didn't have much stage presence, but the arena was dead at that point anyway. Most people coming to this concert were Carrie Underwood fans, not country music fans, so the audience didn't really care about the openers (but I paid over $100 for my ticket, so I was going to get my money's worth!). I thought they did an okay job, but honestly, all I could think about most of the time was how Colton Swon looks like the blonde love-child between Adam Levine and Daniel Radcliffe. (PS: In writing this post, I learned that Colton Swon had been on American Idol. Who knew?).
Colton Swon definitely owned the stage more than his brother.
After removing the equipment from the first act (They changed between every set, which always takes way too much time.), next was Easton Corbin! I had just seem him two weeks before (read about it here), but I was excited to see him again. Mostly bright white lights were used during his show, so he looked washed out in all of my pictures; he wore a horrible shiny vest though, so maybe it's better that way. He had four guitarists with him and a fiddle, so there was quite the band with him! Here are some of the songs he performed:


Lovin' You Is Fun

Yup (when he sounds a little like Josh Turner)

Roll with It (when he sounds like George Strait)

More Country Than That

Are You With Me (Before he sang this, he said that he couldn't think of anything more American than Washington, DC, and he asked the crowd to turn on their phone flashlights, which was very cool!)

The crowd was feeling this song!
Corbin's band then played some bits from other genres of music, right before Corbin himself started singing "real country" songs! Those of us who were true country music fans sang along. Well, all four of us. Here are those songs:

John Deere Green

Should Have Been a Cowboy

She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy

Corbin then finished up with two of his biggest hits:

Baby Be My Love Song

All Over The Road

In between Corbin's and Underwood's sets, the venue played a mix of music, as opposed to all country music like I would have expected. More people from the crowd sang along to the 80's songs that played during the break than during the actual performances of the Swon Brothers or Corbin. Sad.

Once the smoke (dry ice?) started pluming, you knew Carrie Underwood was going to go on soon. The staging was definitely more dramatic for her: it's just as much about the show as it is about the music! Here are some pictures I took:

Quite the light show!
Not sure about this gold armor dress with epaulettes. But her legs looked GREAT!
The rings would move up and down and tilt and light up...They did it all!
A huge jukebox came up out of the floor with fireworks!
Underwood standing on said jukebox, wearing a Star Trek inspired taupe outfit. Questionable...
Of course there had to be a disco ball for "Heartbeat." She glowed like the aliens in Cocoon!
The rings mimicked a tornado and huge sheets were blowing on stage during "Blown Away." Very creative!
If Pocahontas and Esmeralda from Disney were a fashion duo, they would design this outfit.
I don't know who made this ugly sweater-vest-scarf thing, but it is hideous. It looks like she's wearing moss!
At one point Underwood took out a video camera and filmed her fans, which I thought was fun!
Underwood played guitar AND the harmonica during her show! This black dress was the most "normal" of her ensembles...
The stage was meant to look like rain during "Something in the Water."
BUT enough about the stage and her poor taste in fashion. Now onto the music! I was so glad that she performed songs from throughout her career, since I'm not that familiar with her newest album, "Storyteller." She is incredibly talented, and I loved watching/hearing her perform live. She did an amazing job! Here are some of the songs she sang:

Before He Cheats

Good Girl
Little Toy Guns
All-American Girl

Two Black Cadillacs
Undo It

What I Never Knew I Always Wanted (her song to her son. Not as moving as Celine Dion's "A New Day Has Come" to her own son, but still really good!). Underwood said her son is her "greatest accomplishment," which I think is rubbish. Any human (animal!) can make a baby. Now if he goes on to cure cancer or win a Nobel prize? THEN he's an accomplishment.


Choctaw County Affair
Last Name
Renegade Runaway

Underwood also talked about her new album, saying that country music is full of great storytellers (hence the name of the CD), and that this genre of music has "corned the storytelling market." She said she greatly admired Dolly Parton and went on to sing "I Will Always Love You" (although I usually associate that song with Whitney Houston). Underwood held her own singing that amazing song. And near the end of the show, all three acts came on stage and sang a cover of "Fishing in the Dark."
Look at all that space between the seats and the stage!
It was too bad that the crowd wasn't that into it. The standing room next to the stage was barely full! But some people in the audience were definitely enthusiastic. A mother and daughter sitting in front of me were having a great time, and I saw one security woman singing and dancing along to every song. And during Underwood's performance of "Jesus, Take the Wheel," two men were dancing together near the stage, which was cute. I know I had a good time, and Carrie Underwood was definitely worth the money! She is so talented and an incredible performer. Two thumbs up!

Click here to read about her recent performance in Philly (with better photos).

NOTE: In between sets there was a really annoying DJ who didn't play much country music and pretended to shoot off T-shirts into the crowd but never really did. So maybe the Verizon Center shouldn't bring him in again...

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Concert: WMZQ's Stars 'n' Guitars 2016

Image found here.
For the past two years, I have gone to see WMZQ's "Stars 'n' Guitars" show at the Fillmore in Silver Spring. I always have a good time, and this year did not disappoint!

I had never seen a guitar before that looked like a tiger's stripes!
Craig Morgan was the host this year, and he did a great job! I've never seen him live before, but I would totally see him in concert again! Here are some of the songs he performed:

International Harvester (which totally describes the country area where I grew up)

Wake Up Lovin' You

When I'm Gone

Online the website says that Kelsea Ballerini was supposed to be there, but she was nowhere to be found. The only girl on stage that night was Maren Morris (this show needs some more woman power!). I was hoping to hear Ballerini's two biggest hits, "Dibs" and "Love Me Like You Mean It," but Morris did a nice job. Along with some of her own songs, she also performed a cover of Beyoncé's "Halo." Here are the songs she sang on Friday:

I Wish I Was (Don't get me started on the lack of subjunctive tense here...)

Easton Corbin is cute! And no longer married... ;)
I was really excited to see Easton Corbin, another artist I've been meaning to see but hadn't gotten around to it yet. He was really good, and I'd definitely go to see him a second time.


All Over the Road

A Little More Country Than That

Baby Be My Love Song

Funny story: Corbin's back-up guitarist was SO bored. He looked like that most of the show.

Brothers Osborne was also there (and they're from Maryland!). I didn't recognize the band's name, but once they sang some songs, I realized who they were. They are quite the duo, with TJ looking like a wanna-be Ryan Reynolds and his older brother John who looks like he should be on Duck Dynasty. But they sure can put on a show! I'd see them again, too!

Greener Pastures

Loving Me Back (No, Lee Ann Womack wasn't there.)

Stay a Little Longer

I wasn't able to get a great shot of Granger Smith!
 Granger Smith was the newest voice on stage, but he held his own!

The Country Boy Song (I think Earl Dibbles, Jr. is his alter-ego...?)

Country Boy Love

If The Boot Fits (He said his four-year-old daughter inspired this song, with the whole princess theme.)

 Backroad Song (his biggest hit!)

At the end the whole group sang "Take It Easy" by the Eagles. It seemed like Craig Morgan was the only one who knew all of the words. Guess it's an age thing...

All in all, this was a great show. I'm already looking forward to next February! AND this event raised $10,000 for the American Heart Association! "Take care of your heart so you can give it to someone else." I'm not exactly sure what that means...Metaphorically giving your heart to someone (i.e. falling in love), or taking care of your heart so that when you die you can donate your organs...?

Click here to see my blog posts about this show in 2014 and 2015.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Superbowl 50 Commercials

I always enjoy watching the Superbowl (or at least eating the yummy food at a Superbowl party). Of course, we all know that the commercials are almost as important as the actual football game itself. Here is my take on this year's commercials.


My favorite was definitely this Heinz commercial. But I'm a sucker for the spots with animals in them!

I know some people thought this Snickers commercial was kind of creepy, but I thought it was hilarious!

Hyundai had some good ones, too. I liked this one featuring Ryan Reynolds.

And the Kevin Hart one was funny, too (although a bit stalker-ish).

The other car commercial I liked was the Honda one with singing sheep!

This Kung Fu Panda commercial for Wix was clever: they imitated previous Superbowl commercials, like the Budweiser frogs and the Old Spice guy.

This Pokémon commercial was inspiring, mainly showing confident kids, which you don't see enough of these days:

And seeing as I'm an environmentalist (or at least work for an environmental non-profit), of course I have to stand behind Colgate's #EveryDropCounts campaign:

Other than the weird kiss at the end, I enjoyed this Marmot commercial (and its message for getting outside):

This Axe ad just goes to show you that there are many ways to define a "real man."

Both of T-Mobile's spots were pretty funny, although they still didn't convince me to switch from Verizon:

I don't own a Fitbit, nor do I have any interest in wearing one. But I pretty much like anything that promotes healthy living and working out.

Ditto for this Advil spot:

 AND this Michelob Ultra ad:

I thought this talking razor was funny, and the commercial was better than Schick's (see below). Can only men subscribe to the Dollar Shave Club?

Given the fact that we're in an election year, this Bud Light ad was totally appropriate.

Fun music and dancing? I'm all for Janelle Monáe and Pepsi!

I hate anything that has to do with babies/pregnancy/childbirth, but Doritos actually made those topics kind of funny.

And their other commercial was pretty good, too (again, because of the dogs):

Although a bit strange, I do like avocados, and I thought these aliens were amusing:

Not Funny/Dumb

As much as I like Christopher Walken, I just didn't get this Kia ad.

There's just no good way to talk about toenail fungus. Like this Jublia's ad:

It was hard for me to follow this Amazon Echo commercial. Maybe I was just waiting for Alec Baldwin to say something about Capital One?

I think I was just biased again this ad because when I used the website looking for an apartment, it wasn't helpful at all. But, I do think Jeff Goldblum's still got it.

Arnold Schwarzenegger is getting old. When will he just let it go?

I realize this Schick commercial is supposed to appeal to men, but I just don't like robots.

Everyone is busy eating while watching the Superbowl, right? So we don't really want to hear about constipation issues.

I'm sick of all-things super hero. PLEASE, can we move on to something new and original?!

Maybe it's because I don't like this beer, but I wasn't feeling this Shock Top commercial.

I won't eat a Butterfinger normally, let alone while riding a bull and jumping out of an airplane. There's nothing bold about that. That's just dangerous!

I'm glad that Toyota is finally trying to make the Prius look cool, but this ad didn't do it for me (especially since it seems like the company is condoning robbing banks...)

Totally Weird/WTF

I think this Mountain Dew ad was the first commercial I saw during the Superbowl. Or if it wasn't, it certainly made an impression (NOT a good one) that stuck with me for the rest of the night.

I'm 100% against drinking and driving, but this super-serious ad was so out-of-place for the Superbowl, and I think it mostly fell upon deaf ears, anyway.

Steven Tyler + Skittles = REALLY strange.

The biggest disappointments for me were the fact that GoDaddy didn't even have an ad (maybe Danika Patrick is getting too old for them?), and that the Budweiser commercial didn't pull at your heartstrings like in years past. See below:

This year's:

Past year's:

I realize these are hard to top, but really? Budweiser didn't even try this year!

Which were your favorite Superbowl commercials?

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Concert: Shenzhen Symphony Orchestra

I found this picture on Twitter from the performance. I love how the women didn't have to wear black!
Last night I went to the Kennedy Center to see the Shenzhen Symphony Orchestra. The concert was the culminating event for a multi-day celebration of the Chinese New Year at the Kennedy Center. I thought this was a very nice way to ring in the "Year of the Monkey," and there were even monkey emblems on one of the walls in the Hall of Nations at the Kennedy Center. Like this:
How cute! Image found here.
The concert started off with a piece called "Chinese Sights and Sounds Medley," written by Yuankai Bao. The piece uses traditional Chinese instruments and folk tunes to transport the audience to China. The orchestra only played a few parts of the full piece, and although I didn't find a video of this exact orchestra playing the exact same excerpts, here is an example of what the piece sounded like:

Next up was Dan Zhu, the violinist, performing Franz Waxman's version of "Carmen Fantasie." I've never seen the opera Carmen, but some of the music was familiar to me! The video below is not the same orchestra, but it is the same piece and Dan Zhu is the featured violinist:

The orchestra also performed the Yellow River Piano Concerto, which is supposed to evoke the movement of the river and portray the emotions of the people who live along its banks. Haochen Zhang was the pianist, and he was great! He's younger than I am, so of course all I could think of was, "What am I doing with my life?!" Below is a video of a youth orchestra performing the piece:

After the intermission, we saw a performance of "An Amazing Dream" from The Peony Pavilion, which is a famous "Kunqu opera." We only saw one scene from the entire 55-scene story, but let me tell you: this was one of the most bizarre things I've ever seen. Below is a video of the same piece, just performed by different artists (watch the part from 6:00 to 13:00):

Yeah...That was pretty weird. I'm not sure which confused me more: how that noise could be called "singing," or why anyone would wear such long sleeves. But at least the video here is a bit more subtle when it comes to the English translation. Here is the translation from our program last night:

Ah, my beauty!
I have been looking for you everywhere,
and at last find you here.
I happened to see a beautiful willow tree in the garden.
And I broke off one branch for you.
Well known for your verse,
Will you please write a few lines in its praise?
I have never seen him before.
How can I know what he is coming for?
I'm so deep in love with you, my dear.
Don't you know floral beauty disappears
with running water and fleeting years?
I have been seeking for you from day to day.
How could I know in your bower alone you stay?
May I have a talk with you?
Where to go?
Beyond the rose grove,
Besides the lakeside rocks,
I will unfasten your buttons and belt
So that pressure and pleasure may be felt.
I will bring fresh shower for your thirsting flower.
Oh, we seem to have met somewhere we forget
But now face to face we stand,
Wordless though hand in hand.

That gets a bit vulgar at the end! I think something got lost in translation, especially when insisting on a rhyming scheme. But at least this piece made me curious to learn more about Chinese opera! Very interesting!

The last piece performed was a shortened version of Puccini's opera Turandot. Because there was no translation for the Italian singing, at first I thought the program notes didn't match the piece! But by the end it made sense. When they got to the duet "Nessun Dorma," all I could think of was that same song in the movie Witches of Eastwick:

I thought the orchestra did a great job, and I definitely felt cultured afterward! What a lovely way to spend an evening!

Friday, February 5, 2016

Movie Review: Amy

Image found here.
I enjoy documentaries and biographies, so when Redbox had Amy, I rented it (well, once I had a free credit, of course).

The movie starts out with a home video of her singing, which is quite cute. She looks so innocent, so different from the famous, public version of Amy that we all knew. Throughout the film, you see lots of hand-held videos of friends, her talent agent, and herself. She seems like a nice, normal girl, joking around with friends or napping in the back seat of a car. Amy was actually really silly around those she was close with. These home videos show her sucking on lollipops, affectionately licking people's faces, talking nonsense into the camera, and asking random questions like, "Do you think you could eat fifty eggs?" And once she had her own flat, she answered the door and pretended to be an Eastern European housekeeper (accent and all), like she herself could never live in a nice place like that. These personal videos let you see a side of Amy that was not in the public eye. She didn't seem like a celebrity at all: she was just a girl who liked to sing.

And throughout the movie, Amy reiterates how much she loved to sing, but never really thought of being a professional singer. Even with such an amazing voice, such talent, she was quite modest and never thought she would be famous. In the documentary, Amy is quoted saying how she didn't care about the fame or about her songs making it to #1 on the charts; she just wanted to "make tunes." She even said, "I don't think I could handle [the fame]. I would go quite mad." She knew herself well, and seemed to foreshadow her own demise.

A still from the movie. Image found here.
Although Amy may not have wanted to be famous, she put her entire self out there for the world to see, mainly through her music. She wrote poetry first, but then became a songwriter. Rather than sing songs that other people had written, she wanted to make music that she herself could relate to. That's why her songs are very personal; she wanted to "tell a story" and used songwriting and singing to "convey emotion."She says in the film, "I write songs because I'm fucked up in the head, and I need to put it on paper and write a song to it and just feel better about it and have something good out of something bad."

She knew something was wrong with herself. The documentary flashes back to her childhood quite frequently, and it seems as though her self-destruction started at a rather young age. Her mom felt like she "couldn't stand up to [Amy]." Amy would tell her mother, "Oh, Mum, you're so soft with me. I could get away with murder." Her mother admits that she "wasn't strong enough to say 'Stop'" to her daughter. Amy's father had an affair with another woman when Amy was less than two years old, and her parents were separated when she was about nine. That's around the time when she started being rebellious, and Amy was using anti-depressants even as a teenager. Her parents also admitted that they shrugged it off when Amy told them she was bulimic; they didn't take it seriously. (Which is too bad, because she was actually quite pretty when she was more "curvy" and natural.) The film shows how she used writing music and singing to escape her depression that started with her family life and only got worse as she grew older.

The person who was the worst influence on Amy was her on again-off again boyfriend/fiancé/husband, Blake Fielder. He had a YOLO attitude that Amy acquired, and he was the person who introduced her to hard drugs. (She already was using marijuana, and in the film Amy is quoted saying that as soon as she got her record deal and her own money, she moved out of her mother's house so she could "smoke weed all day."). The drug use only got worse when Fielder broke up with her. She lost it: she wasn't cleaning her house, she wasn't eating, and she started drinking excessively. You even hear a voicemail that she left Blake on the phone, saying that she would love him forever until the day she died. Her manager wanted her to go to rehab, but her dad didn't think she needed it, so she didn't go. Her dad said, "We did everything within our power to help Amy. But you can't force treatment on somebody. I felt that was Amy's responsibility to get herself well." That is NOT a good attitude to have when your daughter clearly needs help, but it did inspire her most famous song, "Rehab." See the video below:

After that, her life seemed like a roller coaster. She moved to Miami to work with Salaam Remi, and spent that time writing; she was clean the whole time she was with him. But then she'd go back to using drugs, and at one point her manager and good friend, Nick Shymansky, didn't want to manage her anymore unless she got help. So she got her promoter, Raye Cosbert, to be her manager instead (not the best idea...). Then she lost her grandmother, with whom Amy was very close, so that didn't help things.
Image found here.
But through all of that, she came out with her second album, Back to Black, which was "more accessible" and was less like jazz, which was her favorite genre of music. She didn't really connect to current music, which is why she liked jazz music from the 1930's. Even Salaam Remi says in the film that, when he first heard her sing, it was as if he were listening to a "65-year-old jazz singer." But this more "pop" album really pushed Amy into the lime light. The song "Rehab" was much more mainstream than her jazz stuff, and it was the "pivotal song" which really brought Amy her fame and celebrity. That's when she had to start dealing with paparazzi and the more negative parts of being famous. Amy even said in an interview that she would "top herself" (i.e. kill herself) if she really became famous because it would be "scary." Again, her words are like a premonition for what was to come.
Amy and Blake. Image found here.
She eventually got back together with Blake and they got married; "There was no way we were never going to be together," she said. He was still using drugs, and then both of them were smoking crack all the time. Soon after, Amy overdosed and her family took her to the hospital. The doctors were amazed that she wasn't in a coma because of all the drugs and alcohol in her bloodstream, along with her low body weight.

She was supposed to go America for a tour, but her mom didn't want her to go after this overdose incident (though her father wanted the tour to go on). Amy was supposed to be clean, and she was having regular check-ups with a doctor, but heroine was found in her system during this time. Eventually she did cancel a lot of her shows and went to rehab with Blake (Although Blake didn't really want to go, and a lot of people thought it wasn't a good idea for them to go together). Amy admitted the she didn't "really mind it here" in rehab, but Blake hated it. Once they got out, he went to jail for crimes unrelated to drugs, and then "she spiraled very quickly." She was back to drinking and doing drugs, and her friends and the people she worked with were very worried about her. There seemed to be this back-and-forth between times of when she was clean and when she wasn't. Lucian Grainge even made her sign a contract that she would be clean for the Grammy's in 2008; she had to go to a facility and would not make any new music or perform until she was clean. She did end up winning five Grammys (which she watched from London), but Juliette Ashby, a longtime friend, said that Amy told her, "This [i.e. the Grammys and the party] is so boring without drugs." Success did not take away the pain that Amy had been feeling for so long.

Amy watching the Grammys from a venue in London, shocked that she won. Image found here.

Amy was overwhelmed by the fame and the entire situation. When it came to the awards and being a celebrity, Amy said, "It doesn't mean bollucks." She just unraveled, and the media was not kind; late night TV show hosts were mocking her, she was on the cover of tabloids, etc. To try to escape from that, she went to St. Lucia in 2009, which was one of her favorite places to visit and relax. The documentary shows the clips from St. Lucia in black-and-white, like they were old films. She and her loved ones were there for six months; she didn't do any drugs there, but there was plenty of drinking. However, it wasn't all just relaxing. Amy's father brought a camera crew down there for his own TV show, My Daughter Amy. She was annoyed that he brought cameras there when this was her time to relax and get a break, but even then he let fans get pictures with her and simply didn't respect his daughter's wishes. He just cared about the money, not his own daughter.

It was after that when Blake saw pictures of her with someone else on the beach. He filed for divorce claiming she had cheated on him. He even said on camera for Amy Winehouse: the Untold Story that he didn't need her anymore. And once again, she became a total mess when she lost him. The film shows clips of her performances, and she always has a drink in her hand. She felt like she had to keep performing the same songs even though she didn't want to, and she started to get really wasted as another tour was coming up. A concert in Serbia was part of the tour, and we see her come on stage barefoot. She sits on a speaker, falls to the floor, talks to band members, and pretty much does anything but sing. People were shouting at her to sing, which only made her more petulant and unwilling to perform. She didn't seem to care anymore, and she was sabotaging herself and her career. She cancelled the tour after that.

That's when she had some more time to try to get it together. Three weeks later she was clean and apologized to friends for her behavior. Her friends said it was weird to hear her speak normally, like old times. Amy was lamenting the fact that she couldn't just walk down the street, and how she would give up all the money and fame for some normalcy. The next day, on July 23, 2011, she was found "sleeping" in her place in Camden by her bodyguard. But she wasn't asleep. Her heart had stopped, and the alcohol level in her blood was 45 times higher than the legal driving level.

And I think that's the part of her life that most people know about. Before seeing this documentary, all I knew about Amy Winehouse was that she sang the song "Rehab," did a lot of drugs, and died from some sort of overdose. But this movie lets you see another side of Amy. You get to see the joy she had while recording her songs; you can see how important music was to her. Her pianist, Sam Beste, said that Amy had the most "pure relationship to if it were a person and that she would die for it."And I guess she did.

Amy's final recording was a duet with Tony Bennett, one of her idols. She was nervous and felt like she was wasting his time (again, her modesty), but he was very encouraging. Below is the video:

Tony Bennett described Amy as "one of the truest jazz singers I ever heard...She should be treated like Ella Fitzgerald or Billie Holiday." I am not sure if she will be remembered in the same way as those other women, but I do hope Amy Winehouse is remembered for her tremendous talent.

"She was an artist. She was not cut out to be a star." -- Monte Lipman, Republic Records

PS: I recommend watching the deleted scenes on the DVD. It's more of the same history and insight, but still very interesting.