(Documentary) "Just so you know, we're ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas." This film documents how those 15 words in 2003 took the Dixie Chicks from the peak of their popularity as the top-selling f... more »emale recording artists of all time, through the days, months and years of mayhem that followed.« less
Jeff V. (burielofmel) from HARRIMAN, TN Reviewed on 5/10/2008...
No bonus stuff here but the documentary is really good. While watching it, you feel a little disconnected to them as performers and see them as the real people they are beneath the celebrity. Some performs make documentaries and behind the scenes stuff and they still try to keep up the image and all the fake hype. No the case here. They seem like very real people who just happen to have jobs in the entertainment industry. Interesting side of the Chicks if you are a fan.
5 of 6 member(s) found this review helpful.
Jason A. Miller | New York, New York USA | 10/29/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Shut Up and Sing" is a revealing look at the hysteria that surrounded the Dixie Chicks in 2003 after lead singer Natalie Maines took a very brief jab at President George W. Bush in London on the first night of a worldwide concert tour. The new documentary follows the band through the conclusion of that tour, the recording of their next album two years later, and how those seemingly offhanded words wound up changing their careers in between, as well as shifting their fan base far, far to the North.
I'll confess I didn't know much about the Dixie Chicks in March 2003, apart from their inescapable cover of "Landslide". However, I spent a lot of time that month driving around the East Coast south of the Mason-Dixon line, listening to talk radio and seeking (what proved to be false) justification for the U.S. invasion of Iraq. I heard first-hand a lot of the venom being directed at the group through talk radio and the right-wing blog-o-sphere. "Shut Up & Sing" shows the actual concert footage at which Maines spoke her now-infamous two anti-war sentences, and the resulting furore seems more attributable to the power of right-wing media than to anything intrinsically offensive in what Maines said.
"Shut Up & Sing" is told in cinema verite style. There's no narrator, and most of the action unfolds in overheard conversations between the band, their manager, studio engineers, corporate sponsors, and publicists. The movie jumps back and forth several times between the parallel storylines of the 2003 media frenzy and the 2005 recording of their follow-up album. In the Upper West Side theater where I saw the movie, the greatest applause was reserved for Maines' spontaneous cursing out of the President following his ill-chosen words during a Tom Brokaw interview she sees on TV. Also fascinating is a visit to producer Rick Rubin's house as the Chicks try to tease out a new musical direction for their next album following their abandonment by the country radio format. Rubin inadvertently steals the movie for that one scene. Are those rosary beads he was clutching?
The film's structure works quite well, as we see the group struggling in equal measures with recording a new album in a new genre, and dealing with the unwanted attention following the media frenzy. It might help to know more about the Dixie Chicks before going on; I learned more about them on Wikipedia after the movie than I did in the theater. Obviously that caution won't be necessary in most of the country, but I live in a city without a country radio station. The movie's ending is bittersweet, with some band members questioning whether the struggle and its effect on their careers was worth it. By the end of the movie I came away with a greater appreciation for their characters, if not necessarily of their music itself. What happened to them was a travesty, but hopefully the new frontiers that subsequently embraced their music (Canada) will remain a strong fan base and continue to support the group."
Erik North | San Gabriel, CA USA | 11/26/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It took just a few choice words against the President of the United States by lead singer Natalie Maines in London to land the Dixie Chicks in a lot of hot water back home in a country gearing up for a war in Iraq that its planners had no clue how it was to be won. But three years later, the times have changed, the tables have turned; and with that same President's popularity ratings in the cellar, the Chicks have since turned all the trouble they went through into a great album--and a great documentary film.
Made by veteran documentarians Barbara Kopple and Cecilia Peck, SHUT UP AND SING details the travails of the Chicks as they deal with the political, economic, and even life-threatening consequences of Natalie's incendiary comments, made only nine days before hostilities commenced in Iraq, and it also shows an America, particularly that part below the Mason-Dixon line, awash in the kind of blind patriotism that led to the mass crushings of Dixie Chicks CDs that had an eerie resemblance to the Beatles getting their records treated the same way after John Lennon's infamous "more popular than Jesus" statements in 1966. But we also get to see the familial side of Natalie and her bandmates Emily Robison and Martie Maguire and their significant others, and how each and every element of their lives during those three years led to the creation of their album TAKING THE LONG WAY.
While probably quite a few cynics, particularly on the far-right of the political spectrum, will demean this film as a Chicks pity party, it is nothing of the sort by any means. Nor is it merely about freedom of speech, though that element is unquestionably in there. SHUT UP AND SING, at its heart, is about the purest form of American patriotism there is--love of family; love of the best of this great nation of ours, and a willingness to realize our faults. It makes no pretenses at depicting the nasty reaction of Red-State America and the callousness of the Bush administration towards the Chicks as anything less than hypocrisy at its highest; both groups come off even worse in many ways here than they did in FAHRENHEIT 9/11, and this without Peck or Kopple ever being known as agent provocateurs like Michael Moore.
The family and musical moments of SHUT UP AND SING are also interspersed with animated conversations between the Chicks, their manager Simon Renshaw, and their album producer Rick Rubin, as well as some incendiary and blackly comic comments made by Natalie about both Bush and Cheney. All of this makes for a ferociously patriotic and all-American film about true American pride where three women from Texas stood up for what they believed in, even when it was wildly unpopular, and came out stronger from the experience. Kudos to the Chicks, Kopple, and Peck for showing us what our country can still be if we fight for what is right!"
Nancy Smith | Cleveland, Ohio | 02/12/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I've been a fan of the Dixie Chicks even before Natalie was the lead singer and I thought that a mountain was made out of a mole hill about Natalie's comment about Bush. When I saw this film, I was impressed with the amazing music that came about as a result of this incident. I was horrified at the way these three women were treated. Threatening their lives over a silly comment is a disgrace. The film is a gripping piece of Americana and contains humor, drama and some of the best music around. Just ask the Grammy voters. It should have been nominated for an Oscar. If you are a fan of the group, you will be more impressed, if you're not a fan, watch the film and I it will make some converts."
Is this really America?
Daniel Torluemke | Adrian, Michigan | 02/17/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This little five foot woman makes a benign remark about Bush, and millions of rednecks go nuts! Not only did these "freedom loving" American's want to stop listening to the Dixie Chicks, they demanded that they be SILENCED. Other entertainers made far stronger statements against Bush, and his war, yet no one seemed to care.
These women who raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in the past for numerous American causes, were suddenly deemed female Benedict Arnold's, or even worse "Jane Fonda's," oh my!! Did I miss the part in the constitution where American;s can't be critical of the president when they are in England? What federal statute did Maines break?
The good news is that the attempt by the right wing lynch mob to put the Chicks out of business, has failed miserably. The Chicks just swept the Grammy Awards, have an album that spent several weeks at #1 last summer, and just completed a tour that in spite of initial trouble selling tickets, ended up grossing more than thirty million dollars, and being attended by over five hundred thousand fans around the world.
[...] "Shut up and Sing" is a great documentary. Not only is it informative, it is also very funny in parts. Natalie Maines has a wicked sense of humor. Sadly, those with an axe to grind take what she says in jest and use it against her. Just look how nuts the Chicks' haters got over the "heh heh" remark at the Grammy's? Jeez folks lighten up.
When you finish this film, you will truly wonder what happened to the country that you once knew. The rabid Dixie Chicks haters clearly confused the concept of boycotting, with demanding CENSORSHIP!
"Taking the Long Way" did not win the five Grammys because of "liberal Hollywood." It was the best album of 2006. Nashville's top music critics voted it "Country Album of the Year" two weeks before the Grammy's.
Long live the Dixie Chicks. They are to free speech what Rosa Parks is to civil rights!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
J. Aragon | 02/09/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I am an American living in Canada and I saw the movie when it was released in Victoria. The movie was fabulous. It was an honest depiction of what ensued after Natalie's simple statement. What made my viewing experience even better was the cheering, clapping, and ultimately standing ovation at the theater. The Canadian crowd LOVED the movie.
I must say there were many times during this movie that I could feel tears welling up in my eyes. I took my daughter to see it (warning there are some curse words) and she really liked it. Afterward, she wondered why it was such a big deal for Natalie to make a statement. Even for a primary aged kid, she was aware of Freedom of Speech and the reaction just didn't make sense to her.
The best thing in the movie was to see how the Chicks drew strength from one antoher during this ordeal. I think that so much of the reaction to the statement was gendered. Yes, the US was going through this pseudo-patriotic time, but the ways in which the DC were attacked often was filled with sexist tropes.
I'm buying this movie as soon as it comes out and will be showing it in two of my classes. One class looks at globalization and the other is a gender and politics class. I think the nativist and xenophobic reactions by some of the "haters" will cause interesting discussion in class.
Overall, I'm hoping that more people will come to enjoy their music and respect that they stood by one another. I can't wait to see them again in concert. I'm a long time fan of the DC."