Movie Mom

Movie Mom


Thunder Soul

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG for brief language and momentary historical smoking
Profanity:Brief mild language
Nudity/Sex:None
Alcohol/Drugs:Smoking, social drinking
Violence/Scariness:Sad death, reference to off-screen teen violence
Diversity Issues:A theme of the movie
Movie Release Date:October 6, 2011

A real-life “Mr. Holland’s Opus,” this is the inspiring story of a dedicated teacher who transformed the lives of his students and the gathering 35 years later, when he was 92 years old, to perform a concert in his honor.

No one expected much from the kids who went to Houston’s Kashmere High School in a depressed African-American neighborhood.  But a teacher the kids called “Prof” (for “professor”) showed them they could learn to play music that would take them to a national championship,  international tours, and a recording that would rise the Amazon charts decades later as a CD re-release.

YouTube Preview Image

Prof was Conrad Johnson, Jr.  In the 1970′s, as the Black Power movement was inspiring a reawakening of pride in African-American culture, Prof took the school’s jazz band and added discipline, ambition, and a lot of funk.  One of the documentary’s highlights is the description of the repertoire of the other high school jazz bands of the era — mostly a lot of 1940′s and 50′s standards.  When the Kashmere band, called Thunder Soul, showed up for the national championships in Mobile Alabama with their Afros and their attitude, the only black high school to compete, they caused an uproar.  The judges initially tried to declare two winners but Prof insisted they go back and pick just one.

Prof’s insistence on excellence, his innovative approach, and most of all, his own example inspired several years’ of students to try harder and dream bigger.   The music is genuinely thrilling but the real thrill here is seeing what a great educator can do.  The love he had for music and for his students and the respect they still have for him decades later is powerful and moving.  A feature film about this story is in the works and I hope it will be everything Prof deserves, but nothing will match the heart of the real-life footage, archival and new, of the people who lived it.



Previous Posts

Remembering the Vietnam War: 10 Movies
As we observe the 50th anniversary of the War in Vietnam, here are ten of the best of the movie and documentary depictions of the war and its impact on history and culture in the United States. The best-known films about Vietnam include "Apocalypse Now," "Full Metal Jacket," "Platoon," "The Deer Hun

posted 8:00:34am Jul. 25, 2014 | read full post »

Lucy
I always enjoy Luc Besson's stylish car chases and shootouts. I like his use of locations, his strong female characters, and unexpected flashes of sentiment in the midst of mayhem.  While

posted 6:00:51pm Jul. 24, 2014 | read full post »

And So It Goes
A second marriage is, as Samuel Johnson famously said, "The triumph of hope over experience." And as lyricist Sammy Cahn wrote in the song Bing Crosby sang in "H

posted 6:00:13pm Jul. 24, 2014 | read full post »

The Memory Book -- This Saturday on the Hallmark Channel
A budding, young photographer stumbles upon an old photo album chronicling the ideal romance of a happy couple. Intrigued by their love and unable to find her own “true love,” she sets out to find the couple and figure out if true love really exists.  The film stars Meghan Ory (“Once Upon a T

posted 8:00:57am Jul. 24, 2014 | read full post »

Interview: Michael Rossato-Bennett of "Alive Inside"
Michael Rossato-Bennett agreed to spend one day filming Dan Cohen's remarkable music therapy work with people struggling with dementia. He ended up spending three years there and the result is "Alive Inside," an extraordinary documentary about the power of music to reach the human spirit, even when

posted 3:58:01pm Jul. 23, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.