Tuesday, August 21, 2012

"Sparkle": fictive story parallels Whitney's career, as she plays the mom

My own reason to see “Sparkle” was (of course) to remember Whitney Houston (in her last film), who plays mom, Emma, who resists the desire and efforts of her three daughters to form a singing group in the 1960s, viewing (most of all, “Sparkle”, played by Jordin Sparks) her daughters as “problem children” throwing away a chance for “black respectability” through education and church.   Mom wants the family to be cohesive, with the sisters able to take care of each other’s kids and of each other – but they do that through their music.

The film “musical”, directed by Salim Akil for Sony-Columbia-TriStar) is a remake of a 1976 film, originally set in Harlem in the 1960s, now moved to Motown – Detroit.  And the film perhaps portends well for the ability of the film business to help rebuild the Detroit economy. I’m not sure which of Detroit’s four or five facilities were used; the one getting the most attention lately is the MGM Grand downtown.

Despite mom’s fears, the girls gradually sink into trouble, including cocaine abuse (the nosebleeds) and a fight leading to manslaughter and jail for one of them.

But they get their chance at the end, with a grand concert  to please the agent Larry Robinson (Curtis Armstrong).  There’s an office scene shot from one of Detroit’s high rises, looking over to Windsor.
The music has a lot of “pop” from all the way back to the 60s (“These Boots Are Made for Walkin’”), including some of Houston’s favorites later .  Hearing music like this, for me, relives the days of my own coming of age, particularly the time when I was first working and living completely on my own. 

The official site is here.

I saw this on a Tuesday night in a large auditorium in the Ballston Common Regal.  Even on a weeknight, I would have expected more people.  

The picture shows the MGM Grand in downtown Detroit, from my recent visit.  

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