Saturday, June 20, 2009

A collection of one sentence reviews

I've got a little backlog of films going on. Instead of laboring through reviews of each, I've decided to give just a few thoughts on each of them.

Momma's Man (Azazel Jacobs, 2008) [7]
A man at mid-life crisis decides to skirt all responsibilities and move back home. It's certainly more interesting when your parents are avant-garde luminaries like Ken Jacobs. Still, the younger Jacobs has some nice moments when dealing with how being a child never really leaves us at all.

Wilco: Ashes of American Flags (Brendan Canty, 2008) [6]
The live performances show a unit operating at peak potential. Beyond being a serviceable concert film, there's little intrigue or anything of interest.

Hollywoodland (Allen Coulter, 2006) [5]
A good noir story about the possibilities of the death of George Reeves gets bogged down with a similar story involving a down on his luck P.I. (Adrien Brody). The most interesting elements of the film revolve not so much in the characters' stories but in the subtle examinations of how classic Hollywood worked.

Fillmore: The Last Days (I can't remember, 1972) [6]
A clear knock-off in style from Woodstock, the performances by the likes of the Grateful Dead, Quicksilver Messenger Service, and a band called Lamb are good. The negative is that it's basically a puff piece for Bill Graham and his ego. Graham is a great guy in terms of building a musical empire but there's always been something about the guy that I've never really liked.

Monday, June 15, 2009

On Not Going to Bonnaroo and the Redemptive Qualities of the Hold Steady

This past weekend I was supposed to be at Bonnaroo. I had a ticket, had a flight booked and had all my stuff ready to go. Then I looked at the weather for the weekend and had a massive anxiety attack. The threat of being stuck in just a tent with the threat of severe thunderstorms did me in. So, in a nutshell, instead of enjoying the relatively nice weekend in Tennessee, I threw away a couple of hundred dollars over basically nothing.

The whole weekend wasn't lost however, as the Hold Steady came to Ithaca last night. One of the only regrets I had about going to Bonnaroo was that I was going to miss this show. I'm kind of glad things worked out the way they did because seeing the Hold Steady in a small, intimate venue is one of the great concert experiences I've ever had. This is a band that is meant to be seen in a cramped, sweaty space with as many people as possible crammed into the place. Simply put, it was a great show. Both times I have seem them, there's no lack of enthusiasm in what The Hold Steady does and it clearly rubs off on the audience. It was rowdy, there was a lot of beer, a lot of fist pumping, a lot of singing along: all what a great rock & roll show should do. While the Hold Steady may not be the most popular band out there, I'm hard pressed to find a band that has such a intense, die hard following among the people that really care about them. They're a band with no real middle ground, either you really love them or you don't care for them. And from I saw in Ithaca, just about everybody there was there because they really love the music and not just there because a somewhat well-known band was in town.

There are certain groups or bands that make you believe that rock & roll means something more than just simple entertainment. For me, The Hold Steady is band that is all in and believe in what they do, that maybe rock & roll can save your soul. I want to thank them for making my weekend.