2013 saw a slew of musical documentaries: Sound City (dir. Dave Grohl), Muscle Shoals (dir. Greg Camalier) and 20 Feet From Stardom (dir. Morgan Neville). The latter of the three went on to win the Oscar for Best Documentary and revive the career of Darelene Love — who sang her excitement at the ceremony when the movie won — but the first two, Sound City and Muscle Shoals, are notable because of their exploration of the location as well as the music. Now defunct, Sound City was about the studio in Van Nuys, CA where iconic records like Rick Springfield’s … Continue reading TAKE ME TO THE RIVER
5 Hour Friends – Timothy (Tom Sizemore) loves to golf. If he could, he would spend every waking moment of every day golfing. But life is not that simple, so Timothy has to do other things, such as work (occasionally), deal with his ex-wife (only when necessary), send money to his son (when he has any), drink (all the time) and pick up women to keep him company. Life is one big juggling act for Timothy, and he has mastered the trick. Kimberlin Brown, Musetta Vander, Dan Hewitt Owens and Leilani Sarelle co-star in this low-budget look at a man … Continue reading Movie Beat – 03.28.14
12-12-12 – On October 26, 2012, Hurricane Sandy (later classified as Superstorm Sandy) made its way up the Eastern Seaboard toward the Tri-State area. On December 12, 2012, every musician known to mankind made his or her way to Madison Square Garden to put on a benefit concert. 12-12-12 is one part concert film, one part human-interest story, and one part recent history. The true story of how people can put aside differences and come together in the face of tragedy. And rock ‘n’ roll. A lot of rock ‘n’ roll. In limited release from The Weinstein Company. The … Continue reading Movie Beat – 11.15.13
After Tiller – Since the Supreme Court legalized abortions in 1973, eight abortion clinic workers have been murdered. Dr. George Tiller of Wichita, KS was the most recent, and one of the most controversial considering that he openly practiced third-trimester abortions. This is a heavily debated political issue, but this documentary is not interested in weighing this side versus that side, it wants to answer basic questions: Why does the mother decide that they cannot go through with the birth this late in the game? Why do these clinic workers, who are constantly in danger, continue to do the work … Continue reading Movie Beat – 09.20.13
It opens with an image of two dead black men, lynched, with an American flag flapping in the breeze. A quote from Martin Luther King appears. It’s clear from the start, Lee Daniels’ The Butler is a political movie, but Jean-Luc Godard reminded us, “All art is political”. It has a very clear opinion and point of view, and I give it a lot of credit for embracing it. Far too often a movie tries to hedge its bets and not offend this side of the aisle or that. They attempt to cloak the story in a suicidal mission of historical accuracy, making people believe that what they see on the screen was true to how it happened in real life. Who can be offended by history? Nothing seen on the screen is how it happened in real life. All movies based on true events, inspired by real accounts, and from a true story are in essence historical fictions because they reconstruct history. That is fine, that is what they need to be, but as long as we are reconstructing history, can’t we go ahead and comment? Can’t we view these events through a prism of one’s own point of view? Isn’t that why we go to the movies in the first place? To see someone else’s story unfold for us, to see and understand his or her viewpoint? Atticus Fitch taught Scout that, “you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them”. We may not be able to walk around in Cecil Gain’s well-worn dress shoes, but thanks to director Lee Daniels and screenwriter Danny Strong, we can see the world through the eyes of Cecil Gains. From the cotton fields of the Jim Crow south to a White House butler for eight Presidents. The great American myth is that of Horatio Alger, a country where anyone can become more than the place of their birth, from rags to riches. Cecil is that myth incarnate. He shows that hard work opens the door, luck takes you through, but humility is what keeps you there.
Ain’t Them Bodies Saints – Bob Muldoon (Casey Affleck) is trying to get back to the love of his life, Ruth (Rooney Mara). While he’s been away in prison, Sheriff Patrick Wheeler (Ben Foster) has been keeping an eye on Ruth, and now that Muldoon is out, Wheeler has to go looking for him. Ruth has plans of her own, and when people stand between you and your beloved, they don’t amount to a hill of beans. Sometimes it doesn’t matter which side of the law you are on, what matters are your intentions. Cue the shootout. Written and directed by … Continue reading Movie Beat – 08.16.13
André Gregory: Before and After Dinner – Most people know André Gregory from My Dinner With Andre, a filmed conversation on life with his close friend and collaborator Wallace Shawn. Others know of his extensive work in the theater, some may know of his brief stint in Hollywood. But only one person knows the whole story, and it’s not Gregory, it’s his wife, director Cindy Kleine. This is a look back in the life of one man, who became a bit of a cultural icon. Never one to shy away, Gregory offers plenty to his fans, but for those who haven’t yet … Continue reading Movie Beat – 04.05.13