Music from the Big House (2012)
Average Rating: 6/10
Reviews Counted: 9
Fresh: 4 | Rotten: 5
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Average Rating: 6.1/10
Critic Reviews: 7
Fresh: 3 | Rotten: 4
No consensus yet.
Average Rating: 4.3/5
User Ratings: 95
In Music from the Big House, Rita Chiarelli, Canada's Queen of the Blues, takes a pilgrimage to the birthplace of the blues, Louisiana State Maximum Security Penitentiary a.k.a Angola Prison - what used to be the bloodiest prison in America. Rita's trip turns into a historic jailhouse performance - playing with inmates serving life sentences. Their shared bond of music, and Chiarelli's vivacious personality, draw striking revelations from the inmates. Rather than sensational stories of convicts,
Jun 1, 2012 Limited
Jan 8, 2013
Caché Film & Television - Official Site
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Even with a gripping subject like blues-singing convicts, the documentary "Music from the Big House" has a disconcerting emotional distance.
Don't look for Elvis in this stark musical doc set in a maximum security prison.
[It] gets across a general notion of music as universal solace. But the filmmakers hesitate at going deeper into the dark places of the prisoners' biographies and the storied prison itself.
It finally feels too cautious, as if digging a little deeper might compromise the prevailing tone of tentative uplift.
McDonald's film ultimately boils down to being just another competent but slightly dull prison doc, albeit a toe-tapping one.
The performances are fun, if musically only adequate -- there are no evident virtuosi languishing within Angola's walls -- and Chiarelli's attempts to frame matters philosophically fall a little flat.
How do we reconcile the horror of their crimes with the humanity of their music? "Big House" could have gone much deeper in tackling this question, but it does open the door.
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