Rise Up - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Rise Up Reviews

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October 31, 2010
‚~Rise Up‚(TM) is a good film although it seems as if there are certain elements that could have been developed. This documentary is only 88 minutes and there was room to expand some of the themes presented in the film. There are also some statements that are uttered about Jamaican society as if they are axiomatic. These statements are erroneous if taken as axioms because it has not engaged the entire breadth of Jamaican society. I will elaborate further. This film follows three aspiring musical artistes: Turbulence, Kemoy and Ice anastacia to demonstrate how difficult it is to rise up from the underground of Jamaican music. The difficulties they experience, you get to understand, mirrors the frustrations of other musicians trapped in the underground. The underground seems as if it is a blanket over the eyes of the average Jamaican. It requires a good film to reveal this reality of the underground to us. This film achieves its objective. This film also helps to explain modern phenomena such as khago who tore down sumfest 2010, dancehall night. Whenever you breakthrough you breakthrough big time. The rise of turbulence in this film mirrors that experience. The underground says a lot about Jamaican music and how it‚(TM)s interspersed with Jamaican society in its totality. Firstly, according to the film, Jamaica, probably, produces per capita the most records in the world and this is without making a breakthrough into the mainstream. Secondly, the music (reggae/dancehall) is a ghetto phenomenon and so the stars who have transcended the underground are more than likely from these areas of impoverishment; an impoverishment facilitated by the rampant corruption of the politicians and the bourgeoisie since time immemorial. If you are not from the ghetto and wish to make it in the music business you have to be accepted by the people from the ghetto. Even if you track artistes who have not emerged from areas of such impoverishment: Sean paul etc they were first accepted on a large scale internationally rather than locally. There is a wall in certain ghetto communities where every artiste who has succeeded has a portrait on the wall. As the movie explains it shows that you have been accepted by the people and that they will support you no matter what. I may have to check again but I didn‚(TM)t see sean paul‚(TM)s portrait and this film was shot after the platinum status that was achieved by the successful ‚~Dutty Rock‚(TM). It goes without saying that he is accepted among his bourgeois followers and that he has made a couple hits that have been embraced by the public in general but he has yet to mirror the actual reality of the underground. I am yet to see Sean paul rock Sting commandingly. Ice anastacia‚(TM)s, so called Rise, highlights this disconnect between the ghetto and uptown and foreign acts who sing reggae who, according to some of the locals, cannot share in their experiences. It is apparent in the film, initially, that the group seems to go further than the other two featured artistes: Kemoy, and Turbulence but it all comes crashing down and no money (or weed) in the world can save you. Thirdly, in the Ghetto music is seen as salvation. It is almost deified which is why on every corner, according to the film there is a man who can deejay some lyrics etc. As a sacred spiritual connection with the otherworldly we meet Kemoy in Clarendon. She does not live far from Raymond‚(TM)s corner which features the event Ghetto Sting (how many people can say that they knew of this event before). It‚(TM)s a community event that features talented individuals who seem to have the potential. As the promoter of the event states he feels good when he sees the youths on stage trying to get some acclaim or notice from the public. It is made clear in the film that it is at these community events: street dances etc that the public get to first see the artiste as there is normally a section devoted to these artistes to perform a set. This is why Ghetto sting on Raymond‚(TM)s corner is featured because it is there that Kemoy may perhaps get her break. Her talent, initially, is reserved for herself alone however there are others who, naturally, take notice of her talent. She can create songs without putting pen to paper although in an ingenuous fashion. It is again made clear in the film that it is a struggle for females to rise up because the music industry is male dominated. Even some of the females that do rise, particularly in the dancehall, have to appear as rag dolls as if there is no end to their sexual stamina (spice, lady saw etc) and so grab a man‚(TM)s attention; or they have to show what a man has to do for them to have success (money etc); or they are basically highlighting their independence from men with a corny love song thrown in for good accord. Please note that I say some not all. Great singers such as Etana and Cherine anderson make you realize the potential that a Kemoy has with her soulful, meditative Jamaican notes. It is no surprise that top producers Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare take notice (although I have to question how they got to notice her in the first place).
The rise of Turbulence is the main highlight of the film because he does succeed at breaking out of the mould of impoverishment; he hails from a town called Hungry Town which seems like an apt name. His drive for success knows no boundaries as he has dependents such as his son who is featured and his mother etc. The film does state that this is why people will push you to succeed since all are depending on your success to help them pull through. This is why Turbulence has his team of Bobo dreads around him etc. They keep him going by travelling with him to the studio and by demonstrating their loyalty. In a sense you cannot do it alone. The breakout hit as everyone knows is ‚~Notorious‚(TM). It was a break out hit not only because the song good but he was able to do a video so that people could see his face and know who turbulence was. He says that they might hear you on radio but they won‚(TM)t know that it is actually you and do the potential for marketing yourself is slim without the video. There are good shots in this film featuring Turbulence(before the bus‚(TM)) performing a song at a street dance in front of a small crowd and then providing the transition to that very song which would have been by now produced in the studios and which is featured on the film‚(TM)s soundtrack. The song was featured at the street dances that the average bourgeois (or aspiring bourgeois) Jamaican sees as ghetto and therefore unapproachable but that said song is praised when the artiste is in full flight and is getting his regular rotation on the radio. This film allows you to admire the transition without casting any judgement. The only issues I had with the film regarding the feature of turbulence is that they could have expanded. Firstly, you have turbulence going on and on about the video that he needs to get his image out however the film does not show the process by which turbulence got his video for ‚~notorious‚(TM) filmed; i.e. how did the project get funded etc. Since ‚~Notorious‚(TM) is his breakthrough hit they could have shown how that song came into being and which producer he worked with or how it got its rotation on the radio considering that Turbulence complained of the disc jockeys refusing to play songs if you don‚(TM)t have the cash. Simple question how did it get circulated? Which DJ was paid? I raise these issues since they are raised in the film itself but never confronted head on with regard to turbulence. The film claims that Reggae sumfest is the greatest reggae show on earth etc. The least the filmmakers could have done was to highlight how he came to be noticed by Johnny Gourzong? Or how turbulence reached the stage where Johnny Gourzong had to take notice. The filmmakers do this for Ice Anastacia so why not turbulence. Gourzong blundered in featuring this group with little talent or hopes of breaking through whereas artistes like turbulence are waiting in the wings. The film could have highlighted the ironies of it all. Ice anastacia has the connections and so after a year he (it‚(TM)s a group but I say ‚~he‚(TM) because the leader seems to be the subject of interest for the filmmakers) is on Sumfest International night 1. It is unbelievable having never performed in front of a huge crowd all his life and only having to submit a cd with a couple tracks. He has the connections nonetheless. The film could have nailed the point by asking gourzong if he would feature this upcoming artiste turbulence> he would more than likely reply ‚~turbulence? Who that?‚(TM)It was a missed opportunity although the interview with gourzong probably occurred much later however turbulence could have represented any other artiste at the time that Gourzong and most Jamaicans (like myself), who don‚(TM)t understand what‚(TM)s going on in the underground, would not know anything about. When Turbulence does come on Sumfest him done the place as is expected and so he has risen. The other two are not so lucky and you are to watch the film to understand why.
Although with Ice Anastacia you probably know why he will fail before he goes on Sumfest as it‚(TM)s all explained in the film prior to his debut. Uptown/Foreign connections; no real musical talent; no connection with the average Jamaican struggle= ????? His story is not really worth mentioning here but it‚(TM)s still important for the purpose of contrast for the reasons mentioned earlier with the feature on turbulence. In the film he gets more attention with regards to his studio life; there is an interview with his producer Baby G at King Jammy‚(TM)s studio; and his debut on Sumfest is thoroughly fleshed out showing the connections established etc. Turbulence could have been featured in such a manner with questions asking him what the feeling is like. They reserve that for Ice Anastacia only. There were probably issues with interviewing Turbulence; I don‚(TM)t know.
Kemoy is a bit more removed than the other two. This is not only due to her reserved nature but because her struggle is twofold: she is a woman and she is poor. She opens the film. A talent like hers is harder to find especially when you consider that she is from the country side. It‚(TM)s a credit to the filmmakers that they were able to discover her and the ‚~Ghetto Sting‚(TM) on Raymond‚(TM)s corner. As mentioned before her style is akin to Etana and Cherine Anderson: very soulful. Her breakout song that gets noticed by Suzanne Couch is entitled ‚ALL I Need‚?. As introduced to Suzanne couch it is raw, probably a capella. She is introduced to Couch who tries to have her sing along to her piano which is to see how in tune her vocals are with a music instrument. Couch also gives her vocal training: learning breath control while singing. It‚(TM)s basically just to give her raw talent some structure. She is then introduced to Sly and Robbie who seem to take some interest in her etc. The main problems I had with her feature in this film are the same as turbulence: there are elements that are not developed. Firstly, how did she record her demo single that could be sent to Suzanne Couch? Or How was this link with Suzanne Couch made? I hope there was not any manipulation on the part of the filmmakers because her first and, presumably, only studio appearance seem more like an exhibition rather than a concrete step forward. Why I say this is because of what eventually happens to her (which I will not disclose); what does happen to her affects her chances of so called advancement. The producers for instance laud her for having a nice voice saying that she will do well etc but never hint at recording a single for her to make a debut. All you keep hearing is that she will do well etc. I may have missed them saying that they want to work with her definitively. I maintain that it was an exhibition because when they took her to the studio they could have at least recorded a single instead of having her there free styling. I maintain that there was a hint of manipulation because there were no established linkages in her so called rise. Her rise seemed artificial as opposed to being natural i.e. it played out as this girl‚(TM)s desire to rise to the top without the interference of elements of the filmmakers. You hear, and you know already, that Sly and Robbie are top producers and if you get the chance to work with them you should be honoured. They don‚(TM)t do much but encourage her to freestyle. They never seemed too interested to work with her in the first place. It‚(TM)s as if they say look we have this girl come and look at her. They say yes they will take a look; ‚~oh there will be filmmakers there etc‚(TM) ‚~alright we will pass through‚(TM). They say at the end that she will have to put her music on hold but I don‚(TM)t see why definitively from her perspective. You will say but isn‚(TM)t it obvious. What happens to her is not an obvious deterrent particularly as she was exposed and got the chance to see what could be achieved. Question: Did she intentionally put her dreams on hold? Or the money that was paid her for featuring in the film was enough for now? I suppose it‚(TM)s debatable.
I wish to address several statements in the film that seemed to have been taken as axiomatic. It is mentioned frequently in this film that the disc jockeys refuse to play the music of these artistes if they don‚(TM)t have money. It‚(TM)s said so frequently that it eventually becomes an axiom and as an audience member you accept it and move along. This claim, however, remains erroneous until you actually feature the said disc jockeys and interview them about the said subject. Get their views on record then let the audience decide. It is therefore probably true until we can get a sense of the guidelines of these disc jockeys etc. In Jamaican society it is probably true but all I‚(TM)m saying is that you should get the said disc jockeys and see what their situation is like. Lastly it is claimed that Reggae sumfest is the greatest reggae festival on earth etc. Probably true from a relative standpoint and so Turbulence and Ice Anastacia are judged based on how they do at this festival. I find it completely unforgivable that they did not mention other formidable local events such as ‚~Sting‚(TM) (Laing and company December 26) not ‚~Ghetto sting‚(TM). ‚~Sting‚(TM) is a pretty formidable stage show. Any artiste that can conquer ‚~Sting‚(TM) can conquer anywhere. Its absence is pretty conspicuous. They choose to feature a ‚~Ghetto Sting‚(TM) instead ( I wonder where they got the idea of ghetto sting from). There are other shows all of which I can‚(TM)t label. Also the film did not address the formation of Alliances (no pun intended). Some artistes have found it easier because of the help of others. This is missing here. I understand though that the film is focused almost exclusively on Reggae and not necessarily dancehall since the film is made from a foreign perspective. (If you thought Anastacia did badly at sumfest. He would have had a heart attack if he went to ‚~Sting‚(TM)). The last comment I will discuss the statement that to prove yourself in Jamaica you have to act like the man from the Ghetto hence an aspiring musician such as Anastacia who is uptown etc. this is erroneous because it has been established that there are ‚~Two Jamaicas‚(TM) which is more like three. There is the conservative bourgeoisie, the youths from the ghetto or poor countryside and (three) the middleman who is culturally divided between the uptown cultural influences and those from the Ghetto/thug culture. Why didn‚(TM)t the film mention the culturally aligned bourgeois elements such as the Church, politics etc to try and understand their views on Reggae. It is quite obvious that there are a lot of elements that detest the music and this could also help to showcase Jamaica‚(TM)s class divide. It would have added an extra dimension. That statement made in the film is pretty erroneous if you don‚(TM)t take in other dimensions to society.
All in all a good film I felt a bit cheated though. Certain elements could have been developed more and some statements, taken to be axioms, are, on closer inspection erroneous if you don‚(TM)t consider all views. There are some good shots of Jamaica as well.
½ October 28, 2010
Best Music Documentary of 2010!
August 7, 2010
It's amazing to see how deeply people in Jamaica are into their music and how music is only realistic option for many Jamaicans to rise up from the ghettos. Document is made with passion and profession and it follows very closely the lives of it's characters.
August 2, 2010
recommended for jamaica-sound-lovers :)
July 29, 2010
Rise up is a beautifully done documentary filmed in Jamaica over five years . Our film maker follows 3 struggling musical artist to Rise up out of the underground of the Jamaican music scene . Jamaica produces more music per capita than any other country in the world . Each artist is at a different part of there career is is trying to get ahead in the business as with there talents . Keymoy is a young country girl with a voice of a angel , who just started to realize her talent thanks to some major producers . ICE , is a uptown youth with a dream and drive who gets a chance of a lifetime , thanks to some good contacts . Blows a great opportunity to make a impact in his career . Turbulence is a artist thanks to the director of this film , who gets to make his dreams come true . They each struggle to go to the next level or find some understanding what it takes to become a star. There is a downside to these beautiful story , we get caught up in Keymoy's story and find her at the end with raising her child and not following her talents to what could be . I applauded the film makers on this wonderfully made film and they really captured Jamaica and its beautiful people
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