Advertisement

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
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.

Advertisement

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.

Advertisement

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

Trailer: Samuel L. Jackson is the President in "Big Game"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DKThy0cipVA ...

posted 8:00:34am Apr. 25, 2015 | read full post »

Trailer: Song from the Forest
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ekirhw2MMwQ I was delighted to see that there is a documentary about Louis Sarno, whose work I have admired since I saw the wonderful film Oka! directed by Lavinia ...

posted 8:00:43am Apr. 24, 2015 | read full post »

The Age of Adaline
Be careful what you wish for.  You think it would be great to stay 29 forever?  Adaline (Blake Lively) finds out that it is not great to become unstuck from time, to watch everyone you love grow old and die, to hurt those you care about ...

posted 5:59:10pm Apr. 23, 2015 | read full post »

The Water Diviner
Before it detours into not one, not two, but at least three preposterous Hollywood twists, "The Water Diviner" is an absorbing drama about ...

posted 5:58:54pm Apr. 23, 2015 | read full post »

Critics Write About Our First Encounters with Star Wars
The latest Criticwire survey asks for our first encounters with "Star Wars." I had a lot of fun writing about mine: A long, long time ...

posted 9:22:38am Apr. 23, 2015 | read full post »

Advertisement


Report as Inappropriate

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

All reported content is logged for investigation.