“The Amazing Nina Simone”: A trailblazing musician gets a familiar documentary

amazingsimone

“The Amazing Nina Simone” opens Friday at Sundance Cinemas. Not rated, 1:42, two stars out of four.

All of a sudden, the movies can’t get enough of Nina Simone. Earlier this year came “What Happened Miss Simone?” a fine, haunting documentary by Liz Garbus that premiered on Netflix. Tentatively set for December is “Nina,” a controversial biopic starring Zoe Saldana as the late jazz singer and David Oyelowo as her aide and confidant.

Coming in between is “The Amazing Nina Simone,” an independent documentary that’s clearly a labor of love from writer-producer-director Jeff L. Lieberman. While “What Happened” relied heavily on audio interviews with Simone and intimate interviews with her daughter Lisa, Lieberman had access to neither.

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Sundance Film Festival: “What Happened, Miss Simone?” dives into the eye of Hurricane Nina

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There’s a double meaning inherent in the title of the documentary “What Happened, Miss Simone?” which opened the 2015 Sundance Film Festival on Thursday night.
At face value, the question seems innocuous: “What things occurred?” But the undercurrent of the question, which was posed by Maya Angelou in a poem, is “What went so wrong?”

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