The Walking Dead
Log in with Facebook
Forgot your password?
Don't have an account? Sign up here
and the Terms and Policies,
and to receive email from Rotten Tomatoes and Fandango.
Already have an account? Log in here
Please enter your email address and we will email you a new password.
We want to hear what you have to say but need to verify your account. Just leave us a message here and we will work on getting you verified.
Please reference “Error Code 2121” when contacting customer service.
What Happened, Miss Simone? is a compelling -- albeit necessarily incomplete -- overview of its complex subject's singular artistic legacy and fascinating life.
All Critics (45)
| Top Critics (10)
| Fresh (40)
| Rotten (5)
What Miss Simone does have going for it is its unique access to extremely rare material, some of it never seen publicly before.
We may now have jarring insights into the mother, the activist and the tortured soul at the root of Simone's career, but it's the legendary songstress who ultimately shines through.
More omissive than impressionistic.
I think the film overreaches in casting Simone as a standard-bearer against racism and sexism, but it's filled with mesmerizing clips from throughout her performing career as well as numerous interviews with Simone, both audio and on film.
As music and cultural critic Stanley Crouch says, "You only have to hear her once. No one sounds like her except her."
It may not answer What Happened, Miss Simone?, but it does tell us why the question must be asked and will be asked, for a very long time.
I wish the film included even more of [Nina] Simone's music. The interviews are all first-rate and thorough, even as the interviewees, like [Andrew] Stroud and [Al] Schackman, seem to have opposing viewpoints.
With this film, Nina Simone - the woman and the artist - finally gets the veneration she so richly deserves.
Structurally and content-wise it's near perfect: the film cleverly opens on a thematising visual anecdote before taking us back to the beginning of Simone's life.
I had some problems with What Happened, Miss Simone? but still found it worthwhile, mainly due to the inclusion of rare archival footage that I had never seen before.
Garbus's documentary is a celebration of Simone's legacy, but it also takes a reasonably unflinching approach to her faults... the real joy here is the music, and the archival footage of Simone doing what she did best: singing, playing piano, performing.
Though it is doubtful that [Nina] Simone, were she still alive, would be much impressed with [Kanye] West's music - she once said that she didn't like rap at 'all' - she might recognise in him a fellow spirit.
A sad and memorable film that draws a remarkably wide picture of an ideologically admirable (yet psychologically unstable) woman who would use her sublime voice to sing her demons and not go crazy in an ugly time and world that could not accept her and her freedom.
An excellent introduction to one particular soul on planet Earth, perhaps serving as an introduction to the planet as a whole. In a world populated with beings who need interaction to survive, she was isolated, hated for her color, hated for her sex. And when a doctor declares her as unstable in the face of all this, even her own daughter breathes a sigh of relief: "so THAT'S what was wrong with her." How anything positive can arise in the face of the tsunami of hatred and stupidity that is life on this planet is only miraculous, wonderful ... and so this songbird opens her mouth to sing. Must see.
Documentaries are only as good as their filmmakers, because if you are not emotionally invested in the happenings of said story, they have not done enough research on the film's subject. "What Happened, Miss Simone" is perfectly executed for what it sets out to accomplish, which is to show the ups and downs of Nina Simone's career. From her happiness, whether it be through family or performing on stage, to her downfalls of being discriminated or dealing with the tragedy of Martin Luther King, this woman was powerful toward her people, and her voice had more of a purpose than to just sing for crowds.
Told through a series of interviews, archival footage, and narrations by her daughter, the emotional conclusion is very effective for any viewer, even if they are not a fan of possibly what she stood for or her music. In the end, I truly believe this is a terrific documentary that showcases her life for better or worse, and even though the audience will dislike a lot of her actions, she was very introverted after a few certain life events occurred. "What Happened, Miss Simone" is a very raw and true documentary. If I had one complaint, I do feel like the extended periods of her songs felt like the film was being padded out to not feel too short, and do justice to her history. Overall, this is a very well made film that I can surely recommend to music fans or anyone who is a sucker for a good true story.
Through the use of archival footage, concert footage, interviews with those who knew her, especially Nina Simone's daughter, Lisa, and Nina Simone herself in interviews conducted before her death, the documentary "What Happened, Miss Simone?" not only answers that very question but also constructs a complex portrait of a very complicated person who was eventually diagnosed with bipolar disorder. While she sought personal and political liberation, she was also married to an abusive husband.
As a child in North Carolina, Nina Simone(nee Eunice Waymon) trained to be a classical pianist but was blocked from attending a prestigious academy by the racism of the time. So, she played nightclubs in order to support herself and her family. That brought her to the attention of record companies, followed by fame and hit records. In return, she leveraged that in support of the civil rights movement, even though she did not agree with the pacifism of Dr. King. Her activism was reflected in her music, especially in the song "Mississippi Goddam."
There are no approved quotes yet for this movie.