Every person is different. Every relationship is unique, with its own ups and downs, its own intricacies and complexities. Any group has its own dynamics that are worked out over time, its own ways of functioning, its own definition of functional. Everybody has a story, and no two stories are alike. All of these things are fairly …
Browsing: RiFF 2013
In Search of Blind Joe Death: The Saga of John Fahey chronicles the life, music and personality of influential but obscure musician John Fahey. Here is a man that, if he had wanted to, could have revolutionized the art of guitar playing on a grand scale but chose to just do his own thing and not be beholden to the pressures that would have gone along with that.
It’s clear immediately, when the bracketed word “Necronomica” appears over a typically illegible black metal band name, that Kyle Bogart’s short of the same name is out to undercut the absurd theatrics of that oh-so-serious subculture. Yet it’s never without its fair share of affection too: as silly as so many of these scenes may be, the ridiculous antics of band members Absu and Borknarg are as much a celebration of black metal’s theatrical side as they are a mockery.
As a city, New Orleans bleeds music like no other. Music is at its core, in its clubs, and spilling into its streets. Jazz, blues, classical, or anything else that catches your fancy can be found in The Big Easy, so it is really no surprise that the city gave birth to James Booker, the self-titled Black Liberace who mastered all musical forms. Bayou Maharajah, director Lily Keber’s new documentary tracking the life and career of Booker, understands its subject because it seems, fundamentally, to grasp how central a role music played in his life, in his culture, and in the city he loved.
The interconnectivity suggested in Musicwood’s striking poster, as well as attesting the overlaps in agendas between the film’s various subjects, is an immediate indication that there are no good and bad guys here, no heroes to cheer nor villains to jeer. There is only the story, told with clarity and comprehension by debut documentarian Maxine Trump, of acoustic guitar manufacturers and their efforts to preserve the future of the natural resources so crucial to their operation. Smartly soundtracking the movie with music only made possible by the industry now under threat, Trump adds an aural aspect to her exploration of the Alaskan logging trade, its environmental ramifications, and the efforts underway to make more sustainable the practices now decimating its expansive forestlands.
It’s more than mere conjecture to make the leap from the pre-title scene of awkward discovery that opens A Little Bit Country to something wholly more serious; as off-handedly absurd as a mother discovering her son in the process of donning cowboy boots may be, there’s a non-specificity to the sequence that allows our imagination to take flight and insert our own experience instead. That’s the genial genius of this little film from Amy Coop: treating a silly subject with deadpan drama, it becomes about so much more than it seems.
Marcio Novelli is a Hamilton, Ontario native singer/songwriter whose career is just about to launch. He sites influences such as Tegan and Sara, 30 Seconds to Mars, and Green Day as being important to his sound, though his structured and layered pop-rock sound feels a bit more diverse than that. He’s an enthusiastic and joyful performer with an obvious passion for music. In the documentary Walking Proof we join Marcio as he basically locks himself in a recording studio for seventeen days to complete his first full-length album. While he has an engaging and passionate personality, the film comes off as a bit stagnant and it doesn’t allow the viewer an opportunity to get to know any of the people on a personal level.
Being a great filmmaker is not as simple as being a film fan. You can watch hours upon hours of film by all of the greatest directors to ever practice the medium, and when handed a camera you can still produce absolute garbage. While film is certainly a business, many people seem to be losing grasp of the fact that film is art. The artist must possess a voice of their own and a reason to speak up. With the advances in digital, the increased availability of equipment and the accessibility of the internet, many of the boundaries separating the would-be filmmaker from an audience are being diminished. It leaves me conflicted, for any film fan must support a growing of the medium, but with every morsel of greatness comes a mound of filth. The Legend of Jimi Lazer is just another rotting piece in that pile.
Down in southern California there’s a bit of a cultural time warp happening. The Rockabilly music scene is an underground movement that generally tries to maintain the aural and visual aesthetic of 1950’s teen culture. Of course the Rockabilly scene isn’t limited to California, but Reb Kennedy’s Wild Records is based in California and that’s where Elise Salomon spent five months shooting her documentary Los Wild Ones.