"Listen Up: The Lives of Quincy Jones," doesn't allow you the option of boredom. The film, a kind of video documentary, moves very fast, one image eclipsing another, and it is all worth seeing, if only to spot the recognizable faces who give testimony to the subject.
Some people did walk out at a preview screening. At 116 minutes, the film may be a little too much of Jones, a little too much of lightning-fast cutting, but those who disapproved were in the minority. Those who stayed seemed genuinely appreciative of this chance to review the life of a musical giant, a man who has made a career of composing, arranging and producing.
The film begins with Jones' birth in a Chicago slum. His mother was sent to an asylum when he was very young, and his stepmother referred to him and his brother as "Jones' kids."
He got his start with the big bands, playing the trumpet. He worked with Lionel Hampton, Dizzy Gillespie and Count Basie. Later, he would do his first movie score, "The Pawnbroker," and thereafter his star was firmly affixed.
Yes, the film is superficial, but at the same time, it is all very entertaining, partly because we get shots of people like Leslie Gore and Michael Jackson. If there is one complaint to make it is that we don't see enough of Jackson dancing. A snip, and he's gone.
Some of the people who pay tribute to the subject are Barbra Streisand, Francis Albert Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald and Oprah Winfrey.
You don't get too much of Jones' music in this film. You don't really get too much of anything in the movie, but what you do get is fascinating.
"Listen Up: The Lives of Quincy Jones" opens here today.
"Listen Up: The Lives of Quincy Jones"
*** The life of the man who writes, composes and produces music.
CAST: Quincy Jones, Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Lionel Hampton
DIRECTOR: Ellen Weissbrod
RATING: PG-13 (language)
RUNNING TIME: 116 minutes