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

The Best TV for Kids May Be Online
Children have more choices than ever on television, but some of the best viewing for kids is online. Common Sense Media has a great list of family-friendly YouTube stars. I'd add EvanTube to the list. Newsweek calls him The Most Popular Kid You've Never Heard Of, with 272 million views of his engagi

posted 3:59:29pm Sep. 20, 2014 | read full post »

Fifty Years of Fiddler on the Roof
The Yiddish-language stories of Sholem Alechim, collected as Tevye the Dairyman and The Railroad Stories (Library of Yiddish Classics), inspired one of the most successful, influential, and widely performed Broadway musicals of all time, "Fiddler on the Roof," which opened fifty years ago this week.

posted 8:00:47am Sep. 20, 2014 | read full post »

Great Cinematographers on Instagram
Indiewire has a gorgeous array of Instagram feeds from Hollywood cinematographers. Be sure to talke a look so you can follow them.

posted 8:00:27am Sep. 19, 2014 | read full post »

De-fictionalizing Products in Movies and Television: Life Imitating Art
Fast Company has an article about Omni Consumer Products, a "de-fictionalizing" company that looks for products in movies and television that do not really exist and makes them available. As the sole proprietor of Omni Consumer Products, [Pete] Hottelet is constantly scanning the pop culture z

posted 8:00:17am Sep. 19, 2014 | read full post »

Tusk
You can make a good movie about slackers, for example "Slackers," from Richard Linklater and "Clerks" from Kevin Smith. But you can't make a good movie by a slacker, and Smith does not seem wi

posted 5:59:40pm Sep. 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.