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Featured DVD Review: Thunder Soul

January 31st, 2012

Thunder Soul - Buy from Amazon or Video on Demand

Thunder Soul opened in limited release in September, but missed the Mendoza line during its opening weekend. However, it was playing in 35 theaters, which is about 30 theaters more than a limited release of this type should attempt. So did it fail to find an audience because its opening was too ambitious? Or was it destined to struggle at the box office.

The Movie

This documentary tells the story of Conrad O. Johnson, a high school music teacher from the Kashmere High School in Houston, Texas. "Profs", as he was known, turned the school's jazz band into the Kashmere Stage Band, a legendary powerhouse and winner of countless awards over his 10-year tenure and even recorded albums and traveled the world to perform. The film features interviews with the man himself, as well as with a number of the original band members, as they set up a tribute concert. The film also touches on the music, fashion, and politics of the time. And of course, we hear lots and lots of music.

One of the perils biographies need to avoid is being overly enthusiastic in their praise and turning into a hagiography. However, it's forgivable in this film, as it is clear how much of an impact Profs had on the lives of his students. Even if you are not interested in this style of music, it's hard not to be drawn into the infectious enthusiasm of the students as they talk about their old teacher. And if you are a fan of Funk music, then this is a must see movie. The only complaint these people might with the movie is the amount of music. After this movie was over, my appetite for funk wasn't even close to satisfied. In fact, my appetite for funk grew as I watched the movie.

If that's the only complaint, it's a damn good movie.

The Extras

There are two extras on the DVD. The first is an audio commentary track with the director, Mark Landsman, and the film editor, Claire Didier. The only other extra is a 13-minute archival clips from a 1974 documentary called Prof & The Band.

The Verdict

Thunder Soul is an excellent movie and even though the DVD doesn't have a lot of extras, but it is still worth picking up over just renting from Video on Demand


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Filed under: Video Review, Thunder Soul