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REVIEW: "When I Sing"

By Gary Wien

originally published: 07/24/2018

REVIEW: "When I Sing"

Most of the world learned of Linda Chorney in 2012 when her name was listed as one of the Grammy nominees for Best Americana Album. Her film, When I Sing, not only follows her rise from obscurity to the Grammy Awards, it goes much further.  It’s a love story between a die hard Red Sox fan and a Yankees fan; a spotlight on how indie artists survive on the road; and a deeply, revealing portrait of how the media and the music industry turned what could have been a wonderful Cinderella story into a very hurtful experience.

When I Sing was directed by Robin Russin and stars Chorney as herself, Maxwell Scott as her future husband Scott, Chris Mulkey as The Rock Doc; Bari Hyman as Linda’s mom; Mia Moravis as Rhonda/Rhoda, Eli Panero and Paul Chorney (Linda’s Dad) appear as themselves.  But the biggest star of the film is Linda’s music itself.  The songs in the film are wonderful and will lead many to wonder why Linda wasn’t a household name prior to the Grammy nomination.

The film begins with Linda performing at Apres Ski on a deck in Vail, Colorado.  It is here that she first meets Scott, a fan from the Jersey Shore who never knew Linda played shows literally in his backyard area.

The film shows how Linda took full advantage of a “companion pass” for an airline provided by a dear friend.  The pass allowed her to travel anywhere, which Linda used to help her perform all over the world.  Unfortunately, the pass only got her to places - she still needed to find a place to sleep after shows.    The hustle of an independent musician to find places to play, get paid, and get food and lodging (all while trying to keep costs to a minimum) is an interesting and important aspect of the film.

“What is it about a ballad that makes you want a frozen daiquiri?” she asks while performing and watching the bartender blend one up.  “But if it wasn’t for alcohol, musicians wouldn’t get paid, right?



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Her path gradually attracts more and more “angels” along the way - people who would do anything to help her career.  One such angel helps her with the costs to produce her dream album - the recording that would be titled, Emotional Jukebox, and would change her life. 

The album was so good people wanted her to submit it for Grammy consideration. This was an incredible long shot as no independent artist had ever been nominated before. Her odds changed when Linda learned about the Grammy 365 site, which allowed people to reach out and directly contact Grammy voters.  With the help of her teenage nephew, Eli Panero, she is able to invite hundreds of voters to listen to her album.  And many not only took her up on the invite, but loved the album and said they would vote for her.

When the nomination actually came, Linda thought people would love her story.  “I am officially starting my first documentary - my Cinderella story,” she said, holding up a video camera.  “Oh my God…. am I dreaming this?”

She runs through several opening segments, unsure of which road to go.  “Once upon a time there was an obnoxious Jewish girl who always wanted to be a rock star” was one take.  “Ladies and gentlemen, get ready to document the Americana story of the century of the self-absorbed artist’s ridiculous quest for validation!” was another.

“And what the hell is Americana?” she wondered.

Unfortunately, Americana was an established genre with a particular clique of its own and the establishment saw her as crashing a private party.  The film shows Linda having problems with publicists; Americana writers out to destroy her; and record label executives who bully her privately and publicly - accusing her of ‘gaming the system.’

In short, the film shows what happens when your dreams come true, but nothing changes… or things actually get worse.

Linda expects the nomination will help her career, but those expectations are crushed when she talks with a big time manager.  “Look, you have done great,” says the manager, skillfully played by Kiki Ebsen, says.  “What you have achieved on your own is amazing.  You sang in bars your whole life - why don’t you go back to singing in bars? It seems to be working for you.”

REVIEW: "When I Sing"

When I Sing balances that poignant lesson with a wonderful love story and lots of comedy.  The love story provides a nice balance to what could be a very sad story. The film is beautifully shot, moves at a nice pace, and offers interesting insight into the life of an independent artist.  A good part of the film was shot in New Jersey (where Linda lived for many years) and you’ll see plenty of logos for local businesses — The Windmill, Sea Bright Pizza, and 90.5 The Night are well represented. In fact, 90.5 DJ Jeff Raspe appears in the film as well. He is seen on stage at The Paramount Theatre in Asbury Park where Linda performed during a Light of Day Foundation concert.

Maxwell Scott is terrific as Scott, a huge fan of Linda’s music who wants to be romantically involved as well. Her nephew, Eli Panero, is often hilarious and, along with Linda’s father, adds even more realism to the story.  And Chris Mulkey provides a strong performance as the Rock Doc, but the film lives and dies with Linda’s performance, and she is good - very good.  Her performance reaches its highest heights in the closing moments after she finishes singing the title track.  Walking off stage, we see Linda begin to break down.  It’s a moment of pure pain, pure sadness, and pure honesty.  It speaks volumes.

When I Sing has been hitting the festival circuit and was rewarded with the People’s Choice Award for Best Feature Film at the Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival; Best Feature Film - Low budget at World Fest Houston; and was a finalist for Picture of the Year in Nashville Universe film competition. The next stop for the film will be Borderlands Film Festival in New Mexico in October. Additional screenings are being added and can be found at whenising.com. Here’s hoping that the film finds its way on to television where the world will learn that there is much more to her story - there is a tremendous artist as well.






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2018 Westfield International Film Festival To Take Place September 20-23
(WESTFIELD, NJ) -- Anybody can go to a movie theater to watch a film, but the Westfield International Film Festival is bringing movies to the mansion with its sixth season at the James Ward Mansion in downtown Westfield from September 20 - 23, 2018!  The festival will span a four day weekend and will include Q&A sessions with actors and filmmakers, networking opportunities, and red carpet parties.
JCTC FILM Premiers DEKA-LOG, New Series Depicting Contemporary Urban Life
(JERSEY CITY, NJ) -- A new anthology web-series by an up and coming, Jersey City-based filmmaker, premiers at Merseles Studios on August 23rd when Jersey City Theater Center presents DEKA-LOG: a Finding Me story.  Doors are at 6:30pm, screening at 7:00pm.  Admission is $10.
​​​​​​​The Newton Theatre Presents a Silent Film Halloween With A Live Orchestra
(NEWTON, NJ) -- The Newton Theatre presents a trio of ghostly silent films paired with the original historic orchestral scores on Saturday, October 27 at 3:00pm. Travel back to the early 1900s to cheer and hiss with Buster Keaton in The Haunted House (1921), Laurel and Hardy in Habeus Corpus (1928), and Charlie Chaplin in One A.M. (1916). Between the films, enjoy the rollicking rhythms of the early 20th century as played by The Peacherine Ragtime Orchestra, featuring favorites by Scott Joplin, Irving Berlin, and more! Fun for the whole family!
A Look At New Jersey Film Festival's Fall 2018 Lineup
(NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ) -- The 36th Bi-annual New Jersey Film Festival Fall 2018 will take place at Rutgers University in New Brunswick from September 14 - October 26.  The festival showcases new international films, American independent features, animation, experimental and short subjects, and cutting-edge documentaries through over 30 film screenings. The Festival will run on select Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings. The festival is presented by Rutgers Film Co-op/New Jersey Media Arts Center, in association with the Rutgers University Program In Cinema Studies.
​​​​​​​Montclair Film and Hackensack Meridian Health Mountainside Medical Center To Hold Free Screening of "MILK"
(MONTCLAIR, NJ) -- Montclair Film and Hackensack Meridian Health Mountainside Medical Center will present a free screening of MILK (2015) on Wednesday, August 29th at 10:30am at Montclair Film’s Cinema505. The screening, presented in celebration of World Breastfeeding Month, seeks to educate and promote breastfeeding among nursing and expecting mothers.


Newark Black Film Festival
​​​​​​​Richard Wesley is a playwright, screenwriter, and professor of Dramatic Writing at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, and has been involved with the Newark Black Film Festival for well over three decades. A Newark native, he’s currently the Chairperson of the festival’s Selection Committee. The NBFF is currently in full swing, with a screening of Cadillac Records tomorrow, and the biennial Paul Robeson Awards for young filmmakers taking place on Wednesday, August 8. This season’s program also features the films Selma, I Called Him Morgan, The Art of the Journey, Coco, and Hidden Figures. We recently spoke with Wesley about the history and mission of the Newark Black Film Festival, the role it plays in the lives of young filmmakers, and a chance encounter with Sidney Poitier that launched him into the film industry.
REVIEW: "Skyscraper"
Over the last half century, the concept of blockbuster spectacle has flipped on its head. In the 1960s, big budget spectacle meant Steve McQueen jumping over a barbed wire fence on a motorcycle without the aid of a stunt double, or Julie Andrews screaming her lungs out on a Swiss mountainside. Science fiction was relegated to Saturday morning screenings of b-movies, which parents would use to relieve themselves of their tykes while they went shopping. George Lucas  changed all that a decade later, and now sci-fi and fantasy dominates the multiplex, while the only movies featuring practical stunts are those low budget straight to VOD action movies designed to showcase the athleticism of former MMA fighters.
REVIEW: "BlacKkKlansman"
Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman isn’t a remake of Ted V. Mikels’ infamous 1966 grindhouse staple. Rather it’s based on true events (“Dis joint is based on some fo’ real, fo’ real shit,” reads the title card, because Lee is apparently a 12-year-old boy), the story of how rookie cop Ron Stallworth (played here in a star-making turn from John David Washington, son of Denzel) became a member of the Ku Klux Klan in 1978, despite being an African-American.
REVIEW: "When I Sing"
Most of the world learned of Linda Chorney in 2012 when her name was listed as one of the Grammy nominees for Best Americana Album. Her film, When I Sing, not only follows her rise from obscurity to the Grammy Awards, it goes much further.  It’s a love story between a die hard Red Sox fan and a Yankees fan; a spotlight on how indie artists survive on the road; and a deeply, revealing portrait of how the media and the music industry turned what could have been a wonderful Cinderella story into a very hurtful experience.
REVIEW: "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom"
I recall hearing an anecdote concerning a society of pranksters in 1970s London who would take trips en masse to the cinema, only to walk out when or if the title of the movie in question was spoken by a character. That lot would get their money’s worth with Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, as it’s not until the closing minutes that a returning original cast member (in a blink and you’ll miss it cameo) informs us that we’re now living in a “Jurassic World.” It’s the sort of cringeworthy moment that would normally cause me to groan, but I was so broken down by the laziness and ineptitude of this fifth installment in the franchise that I couldn’t even muster a sigh by that late point.

From Our Magazine

REVIEW: "Skyscraper"

REVIEW: "Skyscraper"

Over the last half century, the concept of blockbuster spectacle has flipped on its head. In the 1960s, big budget spectacle meant Steve McQueen jumping over a barbed wire fence on a motorcycle without the aid of a stunt double, or Julie Andrews screaming her lungs out on a Swiss mountainside. Science fiction was relegated to Saturday morning screenings of b-movies, which parents would use to relieve themselves of their tykes while they went shopping. George Lucas  changed all that a decade later, and now sci-fi and fantasy dominates the multiplex, while the only movies featuring practical stunts are those low budget straight to VOD action movies designed to showcase the athleticism of former MMA fighters.


REVIEW: "BlacKkKlansman"

REVIEW: "BlacKkKlansman"

Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman isn’t a remake of Ted V. Mikels’ infamous 1966 grindhouse staple. Rather it’s based on true events (“Dis joint is based on some fo’ real, fo’ real shit,” reads the title card, because Lee is apparently a 12-year-old boy), the story of how rookie cop Ron Stallworth (played here in a star-making turn from John David Washington, son of Denzel) became a member of the Ku Klux Klan in 1978, despite being an African-American.


REVIEW: "When I Sing"

REVIEW: "When I Sing"

Most of the world learned of Linda Chorney in 2012 when her name was listed as one of the Grammy nominees for Best Americana Album. Her film, When I Sing, not only follows her rise from obscurity to the Grammy Awards, it goes much further.  It’s a love story between a die hard Red Sox fan and a Yankees fan; a spotlight on how indie artists survive on the road; and a deeply, revealing portrait of how the media and the music industry turned what could have been a wonderful Cinderella story into a very hurtful experience.


REVIEW: "Sequence Break"

REVIEW: "Sequence Break"

One of the great under-rated horror movies of recent years is Jackson Stewart’s Beyond the Gates. Two of the stars of Stewart’s movie, Graham Skipper and Chase Williamson, reunite for Sequence Break, written and directed by Skipper and starring Williamson in the lead role. Both films make for a dove-tailing double bill of horror movies that employ the genre, and the current obsession with all things 1980s, to explore the dangers of nostalgia and seeking sanctuary in the comforts of your childhood.








Event calendar
Wednesday, Aug 22, 2018


MUSIC

New Jersey Association of Verismo Opera Chorus Auditions @ Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Emerson - 6:30pm

Allah-Las @ Asbury Lanes, Asbury Park - 7:30pm

CIRCLES AROUND THE SUN @ The Wonder Bar, Asbury Park - 8:00pm

STASIS @ The Saint, Asbury Park - 7:30pm

Victor Wainwright & The Train @ Lizzie Rose Music Room, Tuckerton - 7:30pm


THEATRE

Saturday Night Fever @ Surflight Theatre, Beach Haven - 8:00pm

The Lion In Winter @ Cape May Stage, Cape May - 8:00pm

Shakespeare in the Park' Twelfth Night & Macbeth @ Englewood Library, Englewood - 6:30pm







FILM

The Greatest Showman @ Englewood Public Library, Englewood - 7:00pm

FREE SUMMER MOVIE: COCO @ Mayo Performing Arts Center (MPAC), Morristown - 10:30am and 7:30pm

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