Shine could easily be called The Salsa Kings Dance With Pride and Love. Anthony Nardolillo devotes a sizable chunk of his first film to dance numbers, and there’s an infectious joy to these scenes, more about the characters than does the creaky melodrama that frames them.
Director Steve Loveridge has been a friend and collaborator with the rapper M.I.A. since they met as film students, but what saves his first documentary Matangi/Maya/M.I.A. from the pitfalls of an adoring, glossed-over portrayal is the simple decision to take her seriously.
Miriam Makeba is an artist, a symbol, and a woman in the fractured documentary Mama Africa, but never all three at once. Mika Kaurismäki toggles between these roles in his 2011 biography of the South African singer and civil rights activist.
Love Beats Rhymes is more of a showcase for star Azealia Banks than director RZA, but his influence is still felt in this formulaic hip-hop romance, which exudes the generosity of an experienced artist putting a young musician in the best possible light. Banks’s first film isn’t a self-congratulatory star vehicle.
Just as the Extraordinary Ordinary People he profiles have devoted themselves to keeping traditional art forms alive, folklorist Alan Govenar has dedicated himself to exalting their work in books and films. His knowledge and affection are contagious.