Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollectionsMovies_now

Movie review: Tony Bennett revealed in 'The Zen of Bennett'

The singer is profiled while recording last year's 'Duets II,' getting his take on classic colleagues as well as album partners John Mayer, Lady Gaga and the late Amy Winehouse.

November 01, 2012|By Robert Abele
  • Tony Bennett in a scene from the documentary "The Zen of Bennett."
Tony Bennett in a scene from the documentary "The Zen of Bennett." (Josh Cheuse/Abramorama )

It's highly probable that any living music legend you could eavesdrop on during the recording of an album would unearth anecdotes and life lessons.

Celebrated American-standards crooner Tony Bennett is that guy in "The Zen of Bennett," filmed by his producer son Danny and director Unjoo Moon as he recorded last year's Grammy-winning "Duets II" on the cusp of turning 85.

Given an artfully lighted, lounge-club atmosphere (sometimes facile-ly so) by cinematographer Dion Beebe, the movie allows Bennett — mostly through overheard chats — to wax coolly on dressing well, how fame goes but quality stays, and the greats he's known: Basie, Ira Gershwin, Bill Evans. Of the youngsters he performs with, John Mayer makes him feel old, a flirty Lady Gaga makes him feel young and Michael Bublé speaks his language.

VIDEO: Trailers to upcoming films | CRITIC'S PICKS: Awards race 2013   

But it's his "Body and Soul" session with the late Amy Winehouse — the troubled singer's last recording, and a Grammy-winner for pop duo/group performance — that gets you: her jumpy, respectful nervousness, the way he calmly soothes and inspires her by invoking Dinah Washington, and the roiling soul of the takes that follow.

This is when the movie earns its hushed exclusivity and kitschy title, when we see an art form bridge generations with a strange mixture of grace, joy and melancholy.

calendar@latimes.com

--

'The Zen of Bennett'

No MPAA rating

Running time: 1 hour, 24 minutes

Playing: The Landmark, West Los Angeles

PHOTOS AND MORE:

Upcoming trailers, AFI Fest video guide

VIDEO: A guide to upcoming movies

The Envelope

The Envelope: Awards Insider

NC-17 movies

PHOTOS: NC-17 movies: Ratings explained


Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|