Shut Up & Sing Barbara Kopple and Cecilia Peck

Shut Up & Sing Barbara Kopple and Cecilia Peck
When it happened, the Dixie Chicks were "an unlikely voice in the conservative heart of America.” One minute in 2003, the biggest selling musical act in the last eight years were signing a deal with Lipton for their "Top of the World Tour” and the next they were the most despised group in the good old (callous) U.S. of A.

Filmed over the course of three years, Shut Up & Sing is the story of the Dixie Chicks’ fall from the top of the pop world and their steep climb to reclaim their throne. Beginning with that infamous gig at Shepherds Bush Empire in London, where singer Natalie Maines, as a fellow Texan, expressed her shame for President Bush. What seemed like a harmless political jab snowballed overnight into a blizzard of controversy. Cue the backlash, the radio bans, the CD steamrolling, the inane patriotic sloganeering, the death threats and perhaps worst of all, the rise of their red necked nemesis: Toby Keith.

Directors Kopple and Peck couldn’t have asked for better timing, as the Chicks gave them a classic story of betrayal, courage and triumph to depict. Various narratives are threaded throughout the doc, out of order, which allows for all sides of the Chicks to be seen. From the incident and fallout to the band’s musical rebirth and remarkable comeback to their intimate family life and interplay as a band, it’s an all-access pass to their lives.

Whether you’re a fan or not, it’s hard not to sit back and admire their work as musicians, songwriters and friends in the studio, recording with beardy wizard Rick Rubin, while they hone their sound to emerge from country music’s confines. Then again, that admiration stays with you for the entire film. This is a story that needs to be seen, unless you’re a Toby Keith fan.

(Alliance Atlantis)