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Movie Review: "Don't Stop Believin': Everyman's Journey,' 3.5 stars

"Don't Stop Believin': Everyman's Journey" Credit: "Don't Stop Believin': Everyman's Journey"

Don't Stop Believin': Everyman's Journey
3.5 stars
Documentary by Ramona S. Diaz

There are better documentaries than “Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey,” movies with stylistic panache that tell vital stories and expose important truths that blow the lid off corrupt institutions. But you’d be hard pressed to find another nonfiction flick that leaves you feeling so damn great.

In this YouTube age, which has spawned stars such as Justin Bieber and Psy, no musician’s story is more unlikely than Arnel Pineda’s.

The man who is now Journey’s lead singer fronted a band in Manila, stringing together gigs and making the best of a hard existence, when his Journey cover videos posted on YouTube were seen by Neal Schon, the iconic rockers’ guitarist. A tryout followed. Then, against all odds, came a tour.

The film, from documentarian Ramona S. Diaz, turns the classic backstage format on its head.

This isn’t just a behind-the-scenes portrait of a popular band at work. It’s a portrait of mutual healing and regeneration.

Pineda, a kind man with amazing vocal chops who had fallen on hard times, is given the chance of a lifetime. His new bandmates, laughed off in many quarters as ’80s relics, are reborn as an international unit, with a brand-new fan base and a jam-packed tour.

Diaz astutely illustrates this mutual experience: A scene of Pineda singing “Faithfully” surrounded by family and friends in a nondescript room gives way to the song’s completion on stage, in front of thousands. The band is stunned by the influx of new enthusiastic fans. Songs that once seemed dated are given new life.

Don’t stop believin’, indeed.  

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