Herbie Hancock’s 2005 album Possibilities mimicked the winning formula of Carlos Santana’s Supernatural and Ray Charles’s Genius Loves Company, teaming the acclaimed jazz pianist, Miles Davis Band alum, and “Rockit” star with an eclectic mix of new and legendary artists including Christina Aguilera, Paul Simon, Annie Lennox, Trey Anastasio, Damien Rice, and Joss Stone, among others. Herbie Hancock: Possibilities charts the making of this record, following its subject from studio to studio as he attempts to “reach beyond the comfort zone” to craft something unexpected and new via unlikely collaborations. Especially during Hancock’s sessions with John Mayer and Sting, directors Doug Biro and Jon Fine capture that magical moment when the creative spark is struck and loosely formed ideas coalesce into something inspired. Aside from these fleeting moments of spontaneous inventiveness, however, there’s not a lot here for non-Hancock aficionados, as the remainder of the film alternates between archival footage—of Hancock playing with Davis and showing off his trademark synthesizers to Sesame Street kids—and interview clips of the pianist gushing about his diverse partners and spouting sincere, but nonetheless groan-worthy, platitudes like “light is stronger than darkness” and “stand up for what you believe in.” What Hancock himself apparently believes in is peace, as Possibilities’ final few minutes are dedicated to his visit to Hiroshima and Nagasaki on the 60th anniversary of WWII’s atomic bomb attacks, during which he somewhat strangely explains that his mission is to express an “American spirit of sorrow and apology.” Biro and Fine surely mean for this cross-cultural expedition to mirror the cross-genre, multigenerational vibe of Hancock’s latest album, but with the directors unable to convey such ideas via their endless split screen effects (which only prove appropriate during a scene in which Anastasio spews forth a stream of elaborate musical suggestions), Hancock’s political musings seem mostly out of place in a film that, in essence, is little more than a glorified EPK.
- Magnolia Pictures
- 90 min
- Doug Biro, Jon Fine
- Herbie Hancock, Carlos Santana, Sting, Angelique Kidjo, Annie Lennox, Paul Simon, Christina Aguilera, John Mayer, Trey Anastasio, Jonny Lang, Joss Stone, Raul Midon, Damien Rice, Lisa Hannigan
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