Yesterday evening, I attended a screening of 20 Feet from Stardom, the 3rd installment of the 2014 Chicago Summer Film Series in Millenium Park.
This outdoor film series began on June 24th and it will run through August 26th. The films are screened every Tuesday at 6:30pm. It is a completely FREE event! Just grab a seat at the beautiful Jay Pritzker Pavilion or set up your own chair or blanket on the Great Lawn for a stunning view of the state-of-the-art 40-foot LED screen. The sound is amazing as well.
The only thing I love as much as attending live musical performances is seeing films which feature live musical performances. And, the only thing I love more than watching movies, is watching free movies in the park. So, put these 2 things together and I am a happy camper! I had been looking forward to seeing 20 Feet from Stardom, winner of the 2014 Academy Award for Best Documentary for a while now. So, despite that the fact that no one was around to join me, I grabbed my lawn chair and headed out to Millenium Park solo.
It was a stunning evening. Clear skies. No humidity. Mid-seventies. Almost full moon. My first thought was “Shame on me if I miss out on this!” If I had a nickel for every time I heard someone tell me they could never go to a movie alone, I would have my own movie theater by now! Damn! I should have demanded those nickels when I had the chance. Kind of like parents who make their kids put money in a “swear jar” to save for their college fund except I get to keep the money (HA!). Anyway… note to self: Start demanding small coin from friends and family who claim they are too afraid or self-conscious to do the things they love alone. I’ll call it my “tough love” savings plan. I wonder how much longer until I can buy my own movie theater?
By 6:15pm, a nice crowd had already descended upon Millenium Park for the movie. While several people were seated in the outdoor Pritzker Pavilion, most folks spread out on the adjacent lawn, shoes kicked off, picnic fixins’ surrounding them. It was a beautiful, relaxing vibe. I found my perfect patch of grass with a view of center-screen and took in the diversity of the crowd: couples, families, friends, co-workers and several other solo attendees. What is great about an outdoor event, especially a free one, is that everyone is there for a common interest. So, there is no need to be concerned about what anyone is thinking about you. Just relax. Take in the scenery. Your lawn chair or blanket will likely be abutting someone else’s. Don’t be shy. People often strike up conversations about the movie and share their snacks. Make sure you bring some, too!
One of the reasons Chicagoans love the free movies in the park is because our winters are so brutal. We are just happy to have an excuse to be outside. We do NOT waste days in this town when the weather is so stunning. So get out of your head, get out of your way and get out of your house!
20 Feet from Stardom is an outstanding film. It follows the stories of famous background singers throughout their careers, in juxtaposition to the lead vocalists/bands with which they performed. I am talking about Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee, Darlene Love, as well as the legendary Merry Clayton, Lisa Fischer, Tata Vega and others. Newcomer, Judith Hill, who was working with Michael Jackson on his upcoming tour when he passed away is also featured in this film. 20 Feet from Stardom also includes the performances of these spectacular singers past and present, along with commentary from Bruce Springsteen, Sting, Bette Midler, Stevie Wonder, Patti Austin, Mick Jagger, Sheryl Crow and many others whose songs and albums were so enriched by the background vocals of the above-named artists because those women sang “the hooks” that made those songs so iconic. The movie is a metaphorical “walk down memory lane” for me as well as a very educational look at the contributions of these background singers, their choices and their struggles. And the journeys of the few vocalists, like Darlene Love and Lisa Fischer who eventually sought and found success as solo artists are documented beautifully in this film.
I highly recommend you go see 20 Feet from Stardom. Based on the sound of the laughter, singing and clapping by my fellow movie-in-the-park goers, they would encourage you to do so as well 🙂
So, head on over to Chicago’s Millenium Park for any one of the remaining 7 films which will be screened on Tuesday nights during this summer. Next up….O, Brother, Where Art Thou?
ROAM. REVEL. REPEAT.