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article imageReview: Every music fan needs to watch the new Amy Winehouse documentary Special

By David Silverberg     Jul 7, 2015 in Entertainment
Watch what fame does to not only your head, but also your body. That's one of the many warnings in Asif Kapadia's acclaimed film Amy about the late singer Amy Winehouse, who in July 2011 died at 27 from alcohol poisoning in her London home.
To put it bluntly, Amy is an exquisite documentary that will have you laughing, crying and breathless all within 10 minutes. The new film, which debuted in the UK last week and opens worldwide on Friday, tracks Winehouse's journey as a London singer with few fans but critical success, to a soaring pop star best known for her Back in Black album.
Throughout the documentary, we see how Winehouse's philosophy when she became popular was "Leave me alone and I'll do the music." In interviews she explained how she saw fame as something that was "very very scary" and would have been content being a household name in the UK but nothing more.
But when fame popped papparazi bulbs in front of her face, so did the ugly side of handling all this surging pressure. She turned to booze, drugs and late-night partying. She married a man she wrote many odes about in her music but cheated on him when he was jailed for obstruction of justice. Winehouse's talent was sadly overshadowed by her drug habits.
It simply got too much for her. Winehouse never wanted to be pulled into the spotlight; she wanted to focus on music and not media interviews. Her hunger to collaborate with the likes of ?uestlove and Yasiin Bey gave her the kind of nourishment that was stripped away when she realized she could barely walk out of her apartment without being hounded by the press. She turned to drugs and alcohol to escape it all.
Amy explores how the singer began with humility and a sense of humour that shines off the screen. In home videos never before released, she jokes with her friend-manager playfully, and in another clip her voice's talent is on display when she sings happy birthday to a London friend. But the dark moments creep into her early life too: Winehouse is overjoyed at finding her own Camden apartment after her debut album Frank so she can smoke marijuana anytime she wants.
What we best learn in Amy is the lyrical skill of the singer. We all know her jazzy voice made her a unique star, but the documentary showcases just how creative Winehouse got with her lines. Lyrics scrawled on the screen during live performances foreshadowed just how oppressive she found fame to be.
You don't need to be a Winehouse fan to appreciate Amy. Rather, if you're fascinated by the artistry behind musical geniuses, or curious to learn how stardom can swallow up a precocious woman whole, Amy is a must-see documentary.
More about Amy, Amy winehouse, Documentary, Film, Yasiin Bey
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