Welcome to Screen Gems, our weekend of diving into adjacent queer and queer past titles worth watching or revisiting.
The Radiant: Tina
Has another woman ever been as violent as Tina Turner? The long-legged, volcano-voiced mermaid made her debut in the 1960s opposite then-husband Ike Turner, sang her way through the 1970s, divorced and then reinvented herself as as a pop icon in the 1980s. Along the way, she contributed to some of the most successful and memorable musical hits of the 20th century including “River Deep, Mountain High”, “What’s Love Got to Do With It ”,“ Private Dancer ”and“ Proud Mary ”. . Turner’s unique voice, high-energy stage performances and iconic looks have also lent themselves to many drag acts over the years… not to mention many drunk homosexuals singing karaoke.
Tina, the new documentary now airing on HBO Max, gives Ms Turner the full biographical treatment, examining her eventful life, abusive marriage, rise, fall and resurrection as a musical sensation and her enduring legacy in extreme detail – often shocking. With interviews with Turner herself, Oprah Winfrey, Angela Bassett (who played Tina in the delicious scripted biopic What’s Love Got to Do With It), friends and family, the film examines how and why Turner resonated with such a large audience and why the singer – still bright at 81 – has moved away from public life. Turner’s unforgettable music is also present in the film, which only adds to the entertainment value.
By now, the details of Turner’s highly abusive marriage to Ike have become showbiz legend, and a topic Tina would rather not discuss. She’s doing it again here, maybe for the last time. The film does add a masterstroke, however, in the form of uncut archival interviews with Ike himself, stammering to find excuses like a scared child. It’s a shocking contrast between the image of Ike as a monster (which he was) and the towering strength of Tina herself, calmly discussing the years of torture she has endured.
We also suspect that it was this calm force that attracted a devoted LGBTQ fan base to Turner early in his career, just as much as his music. She is a woman to be emulated on all levels. With candid revelations, stories of deep inner determination, and an unforgettable musical soundtrack, we recommend you visit Tina Turner Church. It is not an experience that anyone will soon forget.
Streams on HBO Max.