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

Manners at the Movie Theater
Here's a cute reminder on movie theater manners. [iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/Dz5Qwd93VpE?rel=0" frameborder="0"]

posted 8:00:38am Oct. 20, 2014 | read full post »

Interview: Ted Melfi of "St. Vincent"
Writer/director Ted Melfi got Bill Murray to appear in his first film by calling him. Murray does not have an agent or a manager. He has an 800 number. And Melfi left message after message until Murray finally called back and asked Melfi to pick him up at the airport. Apparently his pitch skills (an

posted 12:55:48pm Oct. 19, 2014 | read full post »

What Do Critics Think About Watching Film That Is Not What the Makers Intended?
Thanks to Indiewire for including me in their survey of critics about how important it is to watch a movie as it was filmed. If it was made on film stock, is it unfair to the artists' vision to watch a digital version? Here was my answer: [caption id="attachment_30587" align="alignright" widt

posted 8:00:39am Oct. 19, 2014 | read full post »

Classic Movie Scenes in Legos
[iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/kbB61_urAlg?rel=0" frameborder="0"] From Morgan Spence

posted 3:59:35pm Oct. 18, 2014 | read full post »

Rio Director and Pixar Artist Collaborate on a New Film: Timeless
Pixar artist Armand Baltazar has a forthcoming three-book children’s series called Timeless, about a world in which all time periods come together, and all nows are at the same time. A boy and fr

posted 3:59:01pm Oct. 18, 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.