Wattstax Reviews

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Rob Nelson
City Pages, Minneapolis/St. Paul
August 21, 2009
Whether or not you call it "blaxploitation," there was something like a riot goin' on in the American cinema of 1973.
Carol Cling
Las Vegas Review-Journal
February 11, 2005
Soul providers light up the stage.
| Original Score: 4/5
Christopher Null
Filmcritic.com
September 11, 2004
Even Richard Pryor's tired old rant gets more screen time than any of the musicians
Full Review | Original Score: 3/5
Top Critic
Terry Lawson
Detroit Free Press
September 5, 2003
The restored rerelease is a time capsule of Afros, anger and attitude.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Tiffany Maleshefski
San Francisco Examiner
July 8, 2003
Hardcore fans of the music of the times will get a kick out of seeing their old idols in their former glory, and footage of the city of Watts is fascinating.
| Original Score: 2.5/4
Marshall Fine
Journal News (Westchester, NY)
July 6, 2003
Pure old school.
Full Review | Original Score: B+
John Beifuss
Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)
July 3, 2003
As Richard Pryor says, it's 'a soulful expression of the black experience'...
| Original Score: 3.5/4
Frank Ochieng
Movie Eye
June 15, 2003
Wattstax was more than just an elaborate musical gathering of gifted energetic artists out to corral a spirited mood-it was an undeniably ultimate black lyrical experience...this stylish funky forum is infectious.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
Top Critic
Stephen Whitty
Newark Star-Ledger
June 13, 2003
A time when not only a single record company could put together a day like this, but could then give every dollar made to charity.
Top Critic
Vincent Canby
New York Times
June 7, 2003
It just has the air of something too carefully laid out in advance. It's so busy being glossy and optimistic that it doesn't even allow its performers time to create on screen a measure of the excitement they might have created in person.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/5
Top Critic
Ann Hornaday
Washington Post
June 6, 2003
A candid, colorful and deeply meaningful sociocultural time capsule.
Top Critic
John Hartl
Seattle Times
June 6, 2003
A recording of a historic moment, Wattstax has considerable value.
| Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Wesley Morris
Boston Globe
June 6, 2003
A disorienting and ironic moviegoing experience.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Fred Shuster
Los Angeles Daily News
June 6, 2003
This gem of a concert documentary makes you realize how much of America's pop culture has been lost, ignored or left to rot since soul music's golden era three decades ago.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
Bill White
Seattle Post-Intelligencer
June 5, 2003
Commentary from shockingly outspoken Watts residents on topics ranging from revolution to infidelity are a vital part of the documentary, as are the several Richard Pryor monologues upon which the film is structured.
Full Review | Original Score: A
Top Critic
Desson Thomson
Washington Post
June 5, 2003
A remarkably penetrating documentary.
Top Critic
Owen Gleiberman
Entertainment Weekly
June 4, 2003
The director, Mel Stuart, cuts from performance sequences to encounter-group dialogues with Watts residents to clips of Richard Pryor improvising at a local bar, the ferocity of his wit bubbling up from the rage of his persecution.
Full Review | Original Score: B
Top Critic
David P. Schwartz
Chicago Reader
January 1, 2000
It's a rich tapestry incorporating documentary footage -- the '65 riots, interviews with Watts residents talking about being black in America -- that puts its musical performances (staged by Melvin Van Peebles) in a broad social context.
Top Critic
Laura Sinagra
Village Voice
January 1, 2000
Not only documents the soul-titan concert held at L.A. Coliseum seven years after Watts burned, but illuminates the rue and kinesis of a city in full Black Power flower.

Boston Herald
July 16, 2005
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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