LADY SINGS THE BLUES
1972, Paramount, 144 min, USA, Dir: Sidney J. Furie

Diana Ross earned an Oscar nomination for her feature debut as Billie Holiday in this loose adaptation of the legendary jazz singer’s autobiography. As she rises from Harlem brothel worker to Carnegie Hall headliner, Lady Day struggles with racism and drugs; Billy Dee Williams and Richard Pryor, respectively, play the angel and the devil on her shoulders.


MR. NICE
2010, MPI Media Group, 121 min, UK/Spain, Dir: Bernard Rose

Inspired by Howard Marks’ popular autobiography, this sprawling cannabis tale recounts the Welshman’s rise to the top of the drug-smuggling world of the 1960s and 1970s, and his later reinvention as a marijuana evangelist. Rhys Ifans and Chloë Sevigny play Marks and his wife, Judy, with able support from Crispin Glover, David Thewlis and Ken Russell (yep, the famous director) as well as a fine Philip Glass score.


IMMORTAL BELOVED
1994, Sony Repertory, 121 min, UK/USA, Dir: Bernard Rose

After Ludwig van Beethoven’s death in 1827, a three-part love letter was discovered in his papers addressed to an unnamed “immortal beloved,” and the quest to identify her drives this moving drama. Gary Oldman is superb as the legendary composer, and Isabella Rossellini, Johanna ter Steege and Valeria Golino are equally fine as possible objects of Beethoven’s affection. Featuring sumptuous production design and some of the most beautiful classical music ever written, writer-director Rose’s rumination on the mysteries of love is a feast for the senses.


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