Anita O'Day: The Life of a Jazz Singer is a documentary that got by me last year -- but watching the DVD made me a fan. O'Day is one of those artists whose heyday predated, well, Elvis and the Beatles, which was a watershed moment for all popular music -- and a death knell for the market for jazz singers, at least in the U.S.
Not that O'Day was ever a pop singer. She may have had a few hits, may have been on TV and played the club circuit regularly. But she was never a household name in the way Ella Fitzgerald or even Billie Holliday were.
Except to jazz fans: The critics, musicians and scholars in this film place her in the pantheon with Fitzgerald and Holliday as a stylist and innovator who could transform a song into something uniquely her own.
Meanwhile, I also want to recommend -- again -- Watchmen, now on DVD in a director's cut that runs 24 minutes longer than the version that came out in March.
I'm sure Warner Bros. choked on the idea of releasing a three-hour comic-book movie -- which is why the theatrical version was a mere 162 minutes (he said ironically). But I have to say that the longer cut -- including another 24 minutes -- doesn't add significantly. Indeed, what's been reinstated, for the most part, are a few seconds here, a slight elongation of a scene there -- but little that adds to the the cinematic tapestry.
Putting that material back doesn't detract -- but it hasn't enriched or broadened the film, either.
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