Phil Ochs: There But For Fortune (Film) Review

Phil Ochs: There But For Fortune

Released: 5th January 2011
Director: Kenneth Bowser
Starring: Phil Ochs, Tom Hayden, Joan Baez, Pete Seeger, Peter Yarrow
Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 97

Documentary filmmaker Kenneth Bowser profiles American folk singer Phil Ochs, who rose to fame in the 1960s and whose hopeful, incisive ballads were written to inspire positive change in an era of profound social turbulence. Equally critical of the left and the right -- not to mention the politically apathetic -- Ochs penned countless songs and released seven albums, ultimately growing a sizable following thanks to his positive message and talent for songwriting. In 1976, following the deaths of Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy, and in the wake of the tragedy at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Ochs was so overcome with hopelessness that he turned to alcohol and ultimately committed suicide. He was just 35 years old. Though the FBI would later admit to singling Ochs out as a traitor for questioning American policy during wartime, this film aims to offer a comprehensive overview of a deeply complex artist through archival footage and interviews with such outspoken fans as Joan Baez, Pete Seeger, and Sean Penn. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

Kenneth Turan (Los Angeles Times) said:
"The short and tragic life of Phil Ochs is as involving as the music he wrote and played, and that is saying a great deal."

John Anderson (Variety) said:
"A warts-and-all portrait of a singer and his celebrity, Phil Ochs: There But for Fortune is an overdue look at the '60s folk movement's anti-Dylan."

Stephen Holden (New York Times) said:
"Not only a biography but also a running history of the period's left-wing activism, replete with film clips of that decade's tragic events."

Melissa Anderson (Village Voice) said:
"Though hewing to a too-conventional structure, Bowser's film is densely researched enough to yield insights not just into its overlooked subject, but also into his overly analyzed era."

David Rooney (Hollywood Reporter) said:
"A stimulating reflection on the American countercultural protest movement examined through the prism of one of its most impassioned and underappreciated voices."

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