Little Richard: I Am Everything

Lisa Cortés’ Little Richard: I Am Everything is a perfect documentary for people with an interest in the legendary musician.  It’s a thorough breakdown that guides unfamiliar movie goers (like myself) through Little Richard’s life and career, and it sports plenty of exciting concert footage and entertaining interviews that would make any loyal fan giddy.

The film follows a traditional narrative that tracks the rise of the controversial rock pioneer, but that doesn’t mean Little Richard: I Am Eveything is conventional.  With fantastic visual flourishes that match the musician’s flashy stage persona, Cortés’ direction signifies how the atmosphere changed whenever Little Richard was in anyone’s orbit.  He had a compelling power that inspired his listeners and musically inclined peers.  The doc also acknowledges how some of his hit songs were appropriated, and remastered into hits that were arguably bigger.  Cortés does a terrific job showing how Little Richard was cunning and used unpredictable writing to play ball with his competitors.  This moment, among others in this curious documentary, does a good job digging underneath the enigmatic charm of Little Richard to discover what truly made him tick.

The filmmaking, however, also exposes the conflicting personal turmoil that Little Richard wrestled with throughout his career.  As someone who embraced their queerness but also felt examined by the unseen presence of God, the doc heartbreakingly shows how often the musician alternated personas.  This type of waffling was a concern to many listeners who felt a connection to Little Richard at the height of his fame, and Cortés is a master of reinterpreting that concern for contemporary viewers who are saddened to see a seemingly confident icon continue to fail himself.

Little Richard: I Am Everything, easily one of the best documentaries you’ll see this year, is a much better example of last year’s David Bowie doc Moonage Daydream.  Crotés’ film shows that it’s possible to channel the essence of a deceased and iconic artist, while also educating viewers and providing essential footnotes on a revolutionary era of music.


Do You Tweet? Follow These Tweeple:

Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie

Be the first to comment

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.