TIFF 2018: Quincy

Putting the life back into the biopic — have you seen him like this?
Musician, producer, singer, and father — Quincy Jones is at the forefront of the coming Netflix documentary. PHOTO COURTESY of TIFF
Musician, producer, singer, and father — Quincy Jones is at the forefront of the coming Netflix documentary. PHOTO COURTESY of TIFF

Directors Rashida Jones and Alan Hicks promised their audience a simple glimpse into the life of prolific composer and music producer Quincy Jones. Yet they went a step further and delivered an intimate biopic that follows the artist throughout his successful, turbulent, and storied career.

Quincy Jones’ incredible professional achievements well encompass and surpass the scope of this article, simply by virtue of him being the most successful music producer of all time — see: “Thriller,” “We Are the World,” and countless movie scores. Media has previously taken his life and acknowledged the impact it has had on him as a man.

Quincy, however, has the key advantage of the unique perspective offered by its co-director Rashida Jones, daughter of Quincy Jones, resulting in a surprisingly tender and witty final product.

Rashida Jones and Hicks parsed through over 800 hours of raw footage and 2,000 hours of extraneous B-roll over a period of eight years to compile the film. ‘Talking head’ interviews, a usual presence in documentaries, were replaced entirely by primary source audio files from Quincy Jones’ contemporaries such as Ray Charles, Dizzy Gillespie, and even Frank Sinatra.

The movie sails through its diligently synthesized stories and snippets, intermixing footage from Quincy Jones’ involvement with the 2016 opening production of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) in Washington, DC.

It is through this event, and others, that the life of Quincy Jones is shone through the veneer of his experience as an African-American man navigating the music industry from the ’40s onward.

Though Hicks did not intend originally to focus the movie through this lens, by the end of the film, Quincy Jones’ experience espouses the hardship and dedication during his five decades of perseverance through bigotry. The movie crowns his achievements in the opening of the NMAAHC, his contemporaries and industry successors joining him in celebrating not only his incredible work, but his life.

Quincy Jones was never known for taking a breather; the hurried pace of his achievements and successes certainly reflect that. While its subject is known to be hard to keep up with, the film gives the viewer the time and cinematic space to understand and appreciate the gravity of his life without merely showing them a montage.

Whether it’s enjoying one of the 3,000 songs playing throughout the film, its filmography, its storyline, or simply the infectious personality of Quincy Jones himself, Quincy is a must-see, and probably one of the most well-constructed biopics of 2018.

Quincy will be released worldwide on Netflix on September 21.

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