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Andrew

Blinded by the Light

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I guess a Billy Joel biopic can't be far behind, but this story inspired by Springsteen's music, about its effects on a British-Pakistani teen in Maggie Thatcher's England, was a delight.  And it's my favorite among the recent crop of movies inspired by pop/rock music of the 60s-80s (no competition next to Bohemian Rhapsody and Yesterday, a tougher call with Rocketman).  Writer/director Gurinder Chadha explores similar themes as she did in 2002's Bend It Like Beckham, but this film shows that she's matured greatly as a storyteller.

Here's my full review: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularcinephile/2019/08/let-yourself-be-blinded-by-the-light/

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Copied from Letterbox'd:

 

Cindy called this "clunky in spots" but sweet, and I agree. It's a bit on-the-nose, and some of the stylistic choices (such as words on the screen) did not work for me. It was formulaic. But the formula was well executed. It's always nice to see the supporting characters (even the dad) have *some* nuance. (The scene where he hocks his wife's jewelry, for example, is well done, and the choices, from the close up on his hand reaching out to take the money to the playing of Pakistani music over it, work well.)

One nagging reservation is that I kept wondering why this whole genre (musical bildungrsoman) is framed as a quintessentially *male* experience. I thought about Toni Morrison: Pieces I Am, and how there are spaces for how literature (or film) has inspired or become spiritually meaningful to women, but there just feels like there is a hard to articulate difference between say, this or Yesterday, and Mamma Mia or Ricki and the Flash, where the music just becomes the generic soundtrack for a conventional melodrama rather than being about the female's relationship to the art. 

This is a biographical piece, and Patel is a guy, so I offer that not so much as a criticism of the movie as a nagging thought about the genre that mediates my enjoyment of individual entries in it.

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I have been looking forward to Blinded by the Light ever since I saw the first trailers, and it did not disappoint. Everyone with me agreed. While I liked Yesterday much more than kenmorefield did, I agree that Blinded is more nuanced and thoughtful--doubtless because it is based on biography and history, rather than being a fantasy.

Would Hairspray be an example of a musical bildungsroman framed around a woman's experience? What about Dirty Dancing? Coal Miner's Daughter?

Charlotte O'Sullivan of the Standard acknowledges the male-centric issues, but loves it anyway:

Quote

Still, we’re here to talk about Javed and Bruce and they’re a dreamy duo. Chadha’s tender offering leaves us with an understanding of why Javed needs to find his own voice and a burning desire to quote Springsteen.

O'Sullivan also suggested another woman's musical bildungsroman: the Amy Winehouse documentary, Amy (dir. Asif Kapadia). I have not seen it and am not familiar with Winehouse's music, but FWIW...

Edited by BethR
added review link, comment

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I left the film wondering if I would have liked it more if I knew more about Springsteen's music. As it is, the movie was a little like putting up with those friends of yours who are really hardcore fans of certain things; the scene where the guys say they want to start a radio show that plays Nothing But Springsteen kinda said it all. (Couldn't they at least broaden it out to include Artists That Springsteen Has Cited As His Inspirations? Something that might give The Boss a bit of *context*!?)

Having said that, I did like the broader, 1987- and 1988-specific song choices on the soundtrack. (I say this as one who finished high school in 1987 myself.) I had the Pet Shop Boys' 'It's a Sin' on my mind for several days after seeing the film, much more than any of Bruce's songs.

Also, in addition to looking at this film through the lens of Recent British Music Movies (With Diversity Elements), I would also suggest looking at the film through the lens of Period Pics About The British Pakistani Experience, like East Is East. In some ways this film is something of a hybrid, genre-wise.

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

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