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Showing posts from June, 2010

I Am Trying to Break Your Heart

Several friends recommended this movie to me. I finally got around to seeing it and was impressed, both with the filmmaking and the music by Wilco. I think you have to be intrigued by the inner workings of the music industry to be engaged by this film. The band is depicted both in the studio and on stage to great effect. Many who see this will feel compelled to purchase Wilco's "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot", the making of which is depicted here. Keep your eyes peeled for a hilarious cameo by SNL's Fred Armisen...

J.D. Salinger on kids

I've been an avid reader all my life but somehow I had never read J.D. Salinger's "The Catcher in the Rye". That is, until now. It is a book filled with classic lines but as I neared the end of the book one particular line jumped out at me and reminded me of some of the challenges teachers face when working with youths. It reads: "The thing with kids is, if they want to grab for the gold ring, you have to let them do it, and not say anything. If they fall off, they fall off, but it's bad if you say anything to them."

The White Stripes - Under Great White Northern Lights

This is as much an art film as a concert film. Jack White is a creative force par excellence and here we get to see him and his comrade Meg in full flight. Watching the pair tour and play shows large and small across Canada - playing in every one of the country's territories and provinces along the way - is a blast. The music of The White Stripes is minimalist: guitar, drums, and vocals. Keyboards are interspersed now and again. It's a wild and primal ride chock full of vocal affectations, tears, jet-lag, and happy Canadians. If you like the above one you may also enjoy their earlier concert film:

The Night James Brown Saved Boston

The title of this film - "James Brown Saved Boston" - is part hyperbole. But there is no doubt his work in the city went a long way toward stemming the tide of violence that followed the slaying of civil rights leader Martin Luther King. The nation had erupted in flames following the assassination and Boston looked set to be another site of chaotic unrest. James Brown was an entertainer par excellence. When he takes the stage you take notice. His wild screams and hollers accompanied by audacious dance moves make for astonishing viewing. This documentary film of course presents highlights from Mr. Brown's electrifying set (which was broadcast live on Boston public television) but it also features interviews with key players of the day who along with Brown helped keep peace in the city. A well-crafted overview of a dramatic period in our country's history, with some powerful music to boot.

Crazy Heart

I was surprised at how much I loved this film. Jeff Bridges stars as Bad Blake, an over the hill country singer who is perpetually on the road and can't seem to get his life in order. His alcoholism is out of control and his once-promising career has lost direction. The music laced throughout the film is outstanding; I found myself humming the tunes long after the film had ended. Jeff Bridges and Colin Farrell do all their own singing, and they sound great. Their lone scene performing on stage together is a highlight. I only wish the director had cast an actress older than Maggie Gyllenhaal as Bridges' love interest. Their age gap renders their onscreen relationship not entirely believable. Still, the actors do well to sell it.  Music fans rejoice: this is a film that respects musicians and offers a truth-filled portrait of the music business. Watching it all unfold is a rare treat.