VOD film review: Made in America
Chris Bryant | On 23, May 2014
Director: Ron Howard
Cast: Jay-Z, Kanye West, Skrillex
Watch Made in America online in the UK: Amazon Prime / Apple TV (iTunes) / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / TalkTalk TV / Google Play
Equal parts documentary and concert, Ron Howard and Jay-Z’s piece charts the efforts that went into the 2012 “Made in America” festival. It features interviews and performances from its biggest acts, as well as with property who worked to make it a success. All of them give the same message – and Jay-Z ensures that’s what matters.
As great as it is seeing the hip-hop megastar take the stage with Pearl Jam legend Eddie Vedder, the idea that a festival is something more than an overpriced series of performances might be a little alien to most audiences. Made in America was born out of a socio-economic need. People needed jobs and were willing to work; Jay just saw himself as providing an opportunity. The working members of the public appear to agree. Ron Howard interviews a caterer, a roadie, a local resident and more to find out their struggles, their needs and what they hoped to get out the festival. It’s warming, it’s honest and it’s inspiring.
Alongside their struggle is Shawn ‘Jay-Z’ Carter’s own. Growing up in Marcy projects, he got involved in drugs and gangs while always aware that music was what he should’ve been doing. This sentiment is mirrored by many acts, including the lesser-known and quietly sincere Miike Snow, the articulate and joyful Janelle Monae and EDM-pioneer Skrillex. All echo the notion that we are one people, looking to inject help and inspiration wherever possible; that it’s not politics or legislation that instigates hard work or lights the talent fuse. It’s art.
Reacting to this exactly the way his life has taught him, Carter decides to put on the huge event showcasing the best in various musical genres. And so Passion Pit, Monae and Dirty Projectors play to dancing, grinning groups alongside established Hall-Of-Famers like the wise and beloved Pearl Jam, Jay-Z himself and Run-DMC, performing in their first live show in 15 years. The musical performances are all brilliantly shot.
Balancing the rousing story of each musician and local worker (as well as some local unsigned acts) with Jay-Z’s personal attempts to find success, Made in America is lovingly made and nothing short of inspiring at every turn.
Made in America is available to watch online on Amazon Prime Video as part of a Prime membership or a £5.99 monthly subscription.