(2021)

Her voice would not be silenced.

https://www.hulu.com/movie/the-united-states-vs-billie-holiday-6f7be3b0-69c5-49ab-8472-2b5b1dabcfe8

Billie Holiday spent much of her career being adored by fans. In the 1940's, the government targeted Holiday in a growing effort to racialize the war on drugs, ultimately aiming to stop her from singing her controversial ballad, "Strange Fruit."

Even though I love listening to jazz, I've never been to a concert or a club specific to this type of music. Following this train of thought, I didn't know anything about Billie Holiday's real-life story and her tremendous impact not only in the respective musical genre but also in the fight against the government concerning the evil, shameful act of lynching - which shockingly still occurs today in some countries. Strange Fruit, a poem written by Abel Meeropol, became incredibly controversial due to its brutal lyrics describing the said act, comparing the victim to the fruit of trees. The adapted song has been referenced as the beginning of the civil rights movement, and Andra Day's performance is the standout of a quite disappointing film.
I just watched The Mauritanian - a movie "based on true events" - earlier this week, and I wrote in its review that I'm almost always captivated by the main story in this type of film, even if the rest doesn't quite hold up. The United States vs. Billie Holiday is a biographical movie inspired by the singer's life, but besides Day's powerful display and memorable music, I struggle to find any other positively relevant aspects. Daniel T. Dorrance's fabulous production design is hard to ignore, as is Kris Bowers' attention-grabbing score. However, these two rarely compensate for the jumbled editing (Jay Rabinowitz), untidy screenplay (Suzan-Lori Parks), and even Lee Daniels' erratic direction.
From the awkward, swift transitions to black-and-white and back to color to the lack of connection between cuts and even storylines, it's incredibly hard to feel captivated by such a visually confusing film. Suzan-Lori Parks' script enters a monotonous, repetitive cycle of depicting Billie Holiday heavily smoking and taking drugs, followed by singing a full song and having sex with a random man, all while trying countless times to stop her bad habits. On one hand, Billie Holiday is a strong, proud Black woman who's trying to fight for what's right through her beautiful singing voice and astonishing tenacity. On the other hand, the viewers have to endure numerous sequences of despicable behavior from someone who doesn't look like a good influence at all.
I understand that a protagonist doesn't have to be perfect, much on the contrary. Nevertheless, the narrative structure is so incoherent and raises so many moral questions regarding the true essence of the main character that I couldn't help but feel disengaged from her story. The only interesting moments are the musical performances which might be the only storytelling detail that works as a connecting point to what comes next or as a reference to what happened just before. Every other scene is seemingly detached from the next one, and Lee Daniels struggles to find the right path. The only storytelling component well-developed from beginning to end is the successful build-up to the performance of Strange Fruit.
In the end, Andra Day is the savior of what could have been a massive disaster. Her interpretation is one of the most impressive debut performances I've seen in the last few years. Ignoring her indisputably fantastic singing voice, Day shows a remarkable emotional range and a physical commitment to the role that not many actresses are capable of. She outshines every single element in the movie, including the remaining cast. Day is the only reason why I kept getting "dragged" to the screen. Sadly, one person isn't enough to overcome dozens of significant issues.
The United States vs. Billie Holiday could have been an inspirational, impactful story about Billie Holiday's influence not only in jazz music but mainly in the fight for equal civil rights. Instead, Lee Daniels' inconsistent direction and Suzan-Lori Parks' extremely messy screenplay are just two of many issues that transform this film into an absolute letdown. From the awful editing that detaches almost every storyline from each other to the questionable storytelling decisions regarding the repetitive, tiresome narrative structure, it becomes surprisingly difficult to fully support the protagonist's behavior. Neat production design and engaging score, but it's Andra Day's phenomenal debut performance that saves a potential trainwreck. Her music and acting display are the two key elements that keep the movie above water. I can't properly recommend it unless there's a personal interest in the main character's life.
Rating: D+

Lee Daniels Entertainment, Roth-Kirschenbaum Films by Lee Daniels, Suzan-Lori Parks, Johann Hari.
Stars: Andra Day, Trevante Rhodes, Garrett Hedlund.

Genres: Biography, Drama, Music

Keywords: war on drugs new orleans, louisiana jazz singer or musician ban from profession biography surveillance heroin addiction 1940s 1950s fbi agent

02/26/2021

Streaming Services

Hulu

Watch thousands of shows and movies. HBO®, SHOWTIME®, CINEMAX® and STARZ® are also available as add-ons. Starting at USD 5.99 / month and is a steal when we compare the streaming quality and the variety of services on offer. Hulu is gaining traction all over the world. In case you are not from the USA and still want to use Hulu to watch than using a decent VPN is one option that you must explore.

Youtube TV

Priced at USD 44.99 most of the significant channels are available on this app. Its a Google product hence the streaming quality under every kind of internet connection is just flawless. They are after-all the market leaders of online videos and live stream. Remember this is also a bundled service and provides for many good entertainment channels. Its a very reliable service, and people residing outside the USA should check for the availability of the channel in their country. If its not available then using a decent VPN service is the best bet.

PlayStation VUE

Priced at USD 44.99 per month. PlayStation Vue is all action and no nonsense streaming option out there. It provides an extraordinary live TV streaming experience. It is currently only available in the USA. In case you still want to use it a descent VPN service is recommended.

VPN Services

We have got solutions for you where you can use VPN’s to have access to the channels using your streaming service. Though you may find tons of VPN brands over the Internet, choosing the correct one can become difficult.

We have picked the best VPN brand for you so that you can peacefully watch sports from your home’s comfort.

ExpressVPN

We recommend using ExpressVPN to easily access a variety of channels anonymously and securely. ExpressVPN offer blazing-fast VPN speeds to watch on all devices, the best-in-class privacy protection and unlimited premium bandwidth. Get ExpressVPN now for 49% off their 12-month package at only $6.67/month and watch your favorite movies, shows and live streams!

  • Bypass geo-restrictions to access: Netflix, Hulu, HBO NOW, BBC iPlayer, iTV, Sky Go (Italy), Rai TV, Crackle, Showtime, Sling TV, FX, NBC, ABC, and more
  • The only provider that unblocks Netflix not just on the VPN, but also using SmartDNS on non VPN–compatible devices such as: Apple TV, PlayStation, Xbox, and smart TVs
  • Unconditional 30-day money-back guarantee