The latest from T. J. Martin and Daniel Lindsay, Directors of “Undefeated” and “LA 92” “TINA ” looks like another documentary that came off a factory line, complete with the usual pans of contact sheets, dramatic zooms into rolling tapes, cross-section between audio interviews and their published print versions, melodramatic score cues doing their best to emulate Philip Glass. But for the most part, despite these stylistic leanings, the movie still feels powerful for pedestrians, simply because of its constant centering of Tina TurnerThe voice that tells her story keeps coming back to the story of the Queen of Rock’n’Roll, the woman who taught Mick Jagger dance, ”as said in her own words. At the very least, Martin and Lindsay aren’t doing the star the disservice of stereotyping them or raising awareness about the worst parts of their lives in the same way as so many have done before.
READ MORE: The Best Documentaries of the Decade [the 2010s]
Respondents note Tina’s irony of wanting to tell her own story so she can leave it behind only to become a discussion point for her fame, and it is disturbing to see how cruel and apathetic the television interviews are in her illness become obsession with their past marriage. The film notes how Ike Turner took advantage of her from the start and showed how he benefited from her talent in this first section. The film at least avoids its sensational tendencies in examining how the abusive relationship is intertwined with her early career in music and the predatory nature of the music industry towards young women – especially black women. It doesn’t avoid the growing complications of her previous association with Ike – let alone the fact that the documentary should always be at the service of its subject.
READ MORE: The director of the Berlin Film Festival explains the division of the event into a virtual festival and a personal “celebration” in 2021
Even so, the film’s function as a conclusion is undeniably powerful. It feels relatively noticeable to have the details of your life illustrated with hindsight in your own words and ultimately to be in control of a narrative that has been treated with pathological sensationalism. Here Turner expresses her desire to keep going like this: “I don’t like pulling out old clothes.”
READ MORE: The 20 Best Documentaries of 2020
Outside of her engagement there is also a fascinating access to interviews with family members, their managers, contemporaries and artist colleagues. There are even Angela Bassett, who famously played the role of Turner in the biography “What does love have to do with it?” Here it is seen as a sore point, as it coincides with the fact that the singer is finally tired of the story coming back to Ike over and over again, always looking for the sensational angle on the most terrible part of her life. The directors don’t go entirely into their influence over the course of music history, but rather into their personal journey, the state of music as the context for their career path. Nor is it entirely dictated as a step-by-step chronological representation of their lives, broken down by subject into chapters with simple titles (“Part 1: Tina & Ike” or “Part 2: Family” or “Part 3: Comeback”). and so on). A brief reference to her role in “Mad Max 3: Beyond Thunderdome“The movie’s main interactions with Hollywood are mostly centered around ‘What Love Has To Do With’, which this movie feels a bit controversial about (there’s plenty of archive footage to show that she’s visibly tired of questioning the film open).
READ MORE: The 25 Best Music Documentaries of the 21st Century
What directors lack in imagination, they at least make up for in emotionality – the second half of the film is undeniably powerful in arranging and exploring the singer’s reclamation and the story around her. His occasional slip into sensation through its editing and the choice of how it composes its footage eventually begin to complement the film in its second half, which revolves around Tina Turner’s reformulation of her image as that of a bonafid rock star. At this stage, her performances take a little more control over the course of the narrative – one of the most poignant moments in the entire film is simply the image of her performing a new song in a crowded stadium in order to achieve her dream of becoming a rock star and accurate to do that.
READ MORE: 2021 Berlin Competition LineUp: New films by Celine Sciamma, Hong Sangsoo, Daniel Brühl and others
The moment itself lets this image do the work implicitly rather than explicitly making the connection. As a personal exorcism of ancient demons, it is infinitely more fascinating than as a documentary. Despite his clichéd styles, he succeeds in doing this thanks to his intimacy and emotionality as well as the intelligent arrangement of the film material. [B]
You can follow the rest of our coverage of the Berlin Film Festival 2021 here.