“Them that’s got shall get,” Billie Holiday famously sang in the opening line of “God Bless the Child." “Them that’s not shall lose.” Holiday wrote the lyrics in 1941; they summed up her hard-scrabble life coming out of a Baltimore ghetto to become one of America’s greatest singers. But Holiday’s early death at 44 was indeed a terrible loss, even more so because of how she was hounded by the authorities due to her drug use. James Erskine reveals perhaps more than you want to know about Lady Day in this documentary based on interviews conducted by Linda Lipnack Kuehl in the ’70s. While we learn about Holiday, Kuehl’s story is told as well. Her recorded questions probe, always digging for real answers. Was Holiday a prostitute, a masochist, a sexual dynamo and a voracious drug addict? According to Billie, she was and more. Holiday’s career started its descent after her controversial song about lynching, “Strange Fruit,” in 1939. Targeted by Reefer Madness architect Harry Anslinger, Holiday was arrested several times for heroin and opium and spent a year in jail in 1947. Suffering from cirrhosis of the liver and rushed to the hospital in 1959, she was busted again while lying in bed. Holiday loved her “reefers,” but ultimately got hooked on the hard stuff. As for Kuehl, she mysteriously committed suicide in 1978. With all of this material to work with, Erskine hits the high note.
You want to like Bill and Ted because they’re just so plain goofy. The original Excellent Adventure in 1989 introduced Keanu Reeves (Ted) and Alex Winter (Bill) as the time-traveling dopey duo. They followed with Bogus Journey in 1991. Bill and Ted are back in 2020, older but certainly not wiser. Dean Parasot’s ludicrous sequel has them shuttling through time again in order to find the ultimate song to save humanity, or something like that. Along the way, they assemble a historical super group consisting of Jimi Hendrix, Louis Armstrong, Mozart and Kid Cudi. As in the first movie, no drugs are consumed, just a sense that you’d have to be high to conceive of another Bill and Ted movie 31 years later.