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      Soul Power Review

      Soul Power poster

      Soul Power

      Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

      Pure pleasure. I've heard the arguments against this out-of-the-vault concert film, capturing the frantic planning and glorious execution (financed by Liberian investors) of the three-day music festival "Zaire '74." Not enough political or ethnographic context; too plain Jane in the presentation; not nearly enough about the festival's relationship to its sister act, the '74 Muhammad Ali/George Foreman "Rumble in the Jungle," the subject of the Oscar-winning documentary "When We Were Kings."

      Sorry, I'm not buying any of it. The performance footage in "Soul Power" is too good to whine about, whatever may be missing. Director Jeffrey Levy-Hinte, borrowing a few background explanatory segments used in "Kings," keeps the amazing talent coming in waves, beginning with James Brown's rendition of the title track, followed - once the film gets to the festival proper - by The Spinners, B.B. King, Celia Cruz and many other giants. Promoter Don King wanted to bring together "some of the most dynamic performers from Afro-America" and beyond. He did it, and I'm already eager for the DVD edition of "Soul Power" because so much had to be cut out of the theatrical version. Watching the Godfather of Soul on the big outdoor stage, you think back to his appearance in "The T.A.M.I. Show" a decade earlier. And then you think: I feel good.

      MPAA rating: PG-13 (for some thematic elements and brief strong language).

      Running time: 1:33

      Directed by: Jeffrey Levy-Hinte; produced by David Sonenberg, Leon Gast. A Sony Pictures Classics release.

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