WHITNEY. “CAN I BE ME”
Directed by Nick Broomfield and Rudi Dolezal
FEATURE DOCUMENTARY 105 Minutes World Premiere
The film was featured at the Tribeca film Festival this year in the spotlight documentary section. It was narrated by producer and director Nick Broomfield. The film is named after a favorite saying of Whitney Houston's : "Can I be me?"
The documentary picks up at the beginning of the sad part of her story. It is constructed around footage shot in 1999 during her European Tour. In some scenes she's high - By this time her voice was falling off and everyone could hear it. The continued success of her career was waning. People were beginning to see her life and legacy as a bit of a joke.
The trailer suggests that the film doesn't just focus on her drug addict days, but some critics and bloggers who've seen this documentary are not pleased with the way Whitney's addiction is harped upon. In an article for The Guardian, author Simran Hans complains that Bloomfield and Dolezal focused too much on her downfall, and not enough on the legacy of her voice.
Others have criticized the film for overly eulogizing Houston. She was a legend- even while she was still alive. She deserves a well rounded look at her life. Based on reviews so far, it is looking doubtful.
The issue of Whitney Houston's possible bisexuality is also a topic in this film. It presents claims of an alleged secret relationship between Houston and close friend/colleague Robyn Crawford. Some say there is not enough hard evidence to present Houston as bisexual- but the filmmakers are insisting upon the connection.
From the personal standpoint of someone who has not seen this documentary - but who loves me some Whitney Houston, I hope this film doesn't rub too much more mud on her name. Lord knows there is enough already. There are lots of kids from this generation who've heard of Whitney, but they don't really know her. Her death was indeed tragic- but not her life.
I remember when I was a little girl in the eighties. Around this time, everyone made fun of James Brown because of his hair and clothes and the way he talked. To me- he was just a character that Eddie Murphy joked on SNL. And it was pretty funny. But when I got older, and I began to appreciate music history, I realized i'd been laughing at one of the most influential musicians to ever walk the Earth.
Not that I didn't have a clue - he was after all -"the hardest working man in show business"! He had so much influence over the likes of Michael Jackson, Prince, not to mention Hip Hop. James Brown was an absolute masterful genius, but it took me a lifetime to fully learn that...cause the mistakes he made later in his life tarnished his legacy. And the media made it sooo much worse.
I don't want Whitney to be remembered that way.
She not only had an amazing voice, but incredible beauty- with the sunniest of smiles. At her peak she was classy, elegant and lady-like. She is the bar for female love ballads. She took that Dolly Pardon song and owned it. She single handedly set the standard for how the National Anthem is to be sung. Everyone hits the high note at the end because of her ("...o'er the land of the free-eeee").
I don't want "crack is wack" to be how she goes down in history. I hope that this documentary will do enough to present her as a whole person - by celebrating her brilliance just as much as her drawbacks. We shall soon see.
Showtime moved the original air date of the Houston documentary from August 26th to August 25th to make room for the Mayweather Jr - Conor McGregor fight.