All I can tell you is that Dan Lindsay and T.J. Martin‘s Tina (HBO Max, 3.27) instantly bored me. I could just feel an intention…actually a determination to be as kind and worshipful as possible…to go easy and paint an adoring portrait of a great pop superstar blah blah. So after watching for 15 or 20 I turned it off. So I don’t know anything except what I could feel coming around the corner.
Here’s a 5.16.21 review from someone who actually sat through it — i.e., The Spool‘s B.L. Panther:
“Just like the Whitney (’18) documentary before it, Tina begins with the intention of teaching us how to better appreciate its subject only to get caught up in the same drama it set out to avoid. As a result, we learn little else.
“There’s no real delving into her musicianship and development of sound/style during her solo years. The years in between Ike [Turner] and the Private Dancer album seem rife with explorations of LA cabaret scenes, how TV became instrumental in crafting celebrity stories/careers, and how Tina was discovering what it meant to be herself at that time.
“Indeed the discussions of Tina’s music largely take a backseat. Her later albums are unremarked upon. I want to know how and why Wildest Dreams sounds like it does. Does she have nothing to say about recording an iconic Bond theme? We learn nothing about how to better listen to Tina. No musical collaborators appear to talk about being with Tina in the studio/on set.
“This is a woman who toured and performed with the greats yet we hear nothing about how Tina fits within mutual exchanges of inspiration happening across the pond in the 70s and 80s. She’s ‘the woman who taught Mick Jagger how to dance’ yet we never hear that story or what it means for us. How does Tommy fit into the story of freedom in Europe she talks about in the documentary? We never learn why she settled in Europe and relinquished her American citizenship.
“Most of all I wish we could have understood more of how love has changed Tina’s life. There’s zero mention of how it saved her life. There was such a persistent void of love in her early life that an exploration of how Erwin Bach changed her and how love affected what she sang about or how she sang it. How did her Buddhist faith practice evolve once she found the love she’d been searching for? That questions like these still linger shows that there’s not enough follow-through with some of the other big motifs Lindsay and Martin set out at the beginning.
“That Tina Turner was able to reclaim, reinvent, and reassert herself as a Black woman in her 40s is truly remarkable and worth a 2-hr documentary on its own. But sadly directors Lindsay and Martin shy away from all the words that make that a remarkable feat. Without more complex and engaged looks at how gender, race, and historical currents shape a performer, documentaries like Tina barely scratch the surface of what makes women like Tina Turner iconic.
Tina will always be a survivor — that will never change. With this documentary, we had a moment to tell the second half of her life and came up short. By spending more time telling us why the question is important, Lindsay and Martin devastatingly fail to answer the question they posit is at the heart of Tina’s story: what’s love got to do with it?”