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Music from the Big House

Music from the Big House (2012)

tomatometer

43

Average Rating: 6.1/10
Critic Reviews: 7
Fresh: 3 | Rotten: 4

No consensus yet.

audience

82

liked it
Average Rating: 4.3/5
User Ratings: 95

My Rating

Movie Info

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,

Jan 8, 2013

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All Critics (9) | Top Critics (7) | Fresh (4) | Rotten (5)

Even with a gripping subject like blues-singing convicts, the documentary "Music from the Big House" has a disconcerting emotional distance.

June 15, 2012 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Don't look for Elvis in this stark musical doc set in a maximum security prison.

June 5, 2012 Full Review Source: Hollywood Reporter
Hollywood Reporter
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[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.

June 3, 2012 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
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It finally feels too cautious, as if digging a little deeper might compromise the prevailing tone of tentative uplift.

May 29, 2012 Full Review Source: Village Voice
Village Voice
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McDonald's film ultimately boils down to being just another competent but slightly dull prison doc, albeit a toe-tapping one.

April 5, 2012 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
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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.

April 4, 2011 Full Review Source: Variety
Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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.

September 12, 2012 Full Review Source: Capital Times (Madison, WI)
Capital Times (Madison, WI)

Music from the Big House middles along as a formless, touristy showcase for Chiarelli.

July 11, 2012 Full Review Source: Orlando Weekly
Orlando Weekly

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