Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé ★★★

The rare Actually Good Film directed by a musician, providing an opportunity to participate in the lavish communal experience of Beyoncé's 2018 headlining set at Coachella. It's aesthetically uneven but there's a lot of joy in the elaborate performance itself that the sometimes overly restless editing can't dissipate. I like Beyoncé's music generally and actually really love three of her albums (I dig the bouncy mid-2000s R&B stuff and the more recent top-of-the-world pop mastery; the Sasha Fierce material mostly doesn't work for me aside from "Single Ladies"), and I think "Party" and "Love on Top" are some of the most glorious songs of the decade... but this type of excessively produced live music has never been my scene. It's really fun to watch, especially the dancing, but I prefer more intimate stuff, so my reaction here is more respect than awe, and the artist's tireless enthusiasm and bottomless well of hits is certainly something to witness. Also not a fan of the way most of the songs are performed in fragments, quickly moving on to another hook with only a handful actually offered in their complete form, but apparently that's a staple of shows of this size, and may constitute an understandable compromise for someone who has so many "obligatory" songs. The case she makes in the behind the scenes footage for the vast setup, orchestra and huge number of background performers (the crew required three enormous soundstages during rehearsal) as an act of representation is certainly powerful. That BTS footage, by the way, some of it shot to resemble (?) 8mm film, is quite interesting and well-paced without wearing out its welcome.

The euphoric "Deja Vu" followed by the brief Destiny's Child cameo toward the end was a major highlight, though when Jay-Z came onstage I marveled at how fast he flipped from all-American badass and Biggie successor to blando dad rocker... although, serious props to him for not turning into whatever Kanye is now. Also, why bring Solange out without letting her do much of anything? But enough bitching, this is lots of fun.