After praising John Ridley‘s Jimi: All Is By My Side (XLrator Media, 9.26) during the 2013 Toronto Film Festival, it’s gratifying to note that most critics seem to agree. It has a Rotten Tomatoes score of 92% so far; the Metacritic score would be nearly as good if it weren’t for The Playlist‘s Kevin Jagernauth. “Andre Benjamin‘s performance as the late Jimi Hendrix is one of the year’s stand-outs,” I wrote some time ago. “The role is more about layers than revelations. The film doesn’t deliver conventional dramatic moments as much as a low-key immersion into a guy who lived deep within his soul but wildly and exuberantly transformed when he performed. Benjamin (i.e., Andrew 3000) totally captures Hendrix’s manner, vibe, voice…that gentleness, that ambivalent but spiritually directed mood-trip thing.”
Here’s an observation that I posted on 9.14.13:
“Jimi Hendrix (particularly during the mid ’66 to spring of ’67 period that the film covers) wasn’t just about his mad/wild/startling/amazing guitar-playing and the stunts he did for attention’s sake (playing with his teeth, lighting his Fender Stratocaster on fire). The Hendrix thing was largely if not primarily about the beautiful crossover metaphor of a serene and beatific and willowy black dude delivering sounds and lyrics that heralded (as well as indicated and even illustrated to some extent) the blooming ’66-to-’67 psychedelic consciousness, which at the time was almost exclusively an avant-garde, semi-educated Zen/Bhagavad Gita/Alan Watts white-guy thing.
“Hendrix was about the transformative spiritual revolution that was happening back then — about cutting-edge pop music being a path or doorway to the mystical. He was, in fact, at the forefront of this movement (as were the Beatles, The Doors, Donovan and several others.) ‘Not necessarily stoned but beautiful’ — Hendrix really knew what that meant.”