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February 14, 2013

Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey

Don't Stop Believin'Whether or not you are a fan of Journey’s music, Ramona S. Diaz’s uplifting documentary about Arnel Pineda’s rise from an impoverished Philippian youth to becoming the lead singer for a hugely successful rock band, will charm you. Discovered by Journey’s guitarist Neal Schon from thousands of YouTube videos, Arnel Pineda has the voice of an angel or a lion — depending on how you perceive his vocal power. Short in stature but overflowing with exuberant youthful energy, Pineda wins over fans and detractors alike. The documentary isn’t the best-edited, but the filmmaker can hardly make a wrong move with the camera-friendly Arnel Pineda as her subject. Candid, funny, and grounded to his relationship with his wife, Pineda comes across a worthy recipeint for all that fame and fortune has to offer. Having already conquered the lure of alcohol and drugs, Pineda's attention to his health allows him to perform with a staggering amount of energy. Even Iggy Pop never had anything on this guy. The filmmaker does manage to ask the correct question of Journey’s manager, who reveals that Arnel is indeed a fully vested member of the five-man band; he receives the same amount of money as his adoring band mates. It’s fascinating to see how a young singer from Manila can transform a classic rock band of aging white guys into a super-band. In the case of Journey especially, Arnel Pineda proves the postulate that, “It’s the singer, not the song.”

Not Rated. 105 mins. (B) (Three Stars - out of five/no halves)

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