Archive for the ‘Movies’ Category

DIY before it was cool. U.K. Subs: Punk Can Take It was directed by Julien Temple who you may know better as the director of The Great Rock And Roll Swindle (Sex Pistols, y’all). Resting on the pastiche of World War II films Temple shows the disillusionment and anger that fueled the punk movement in England. This film is messy and vile and not well done. Exactly as it should be. There’s not really a whole lot going on here, but that’s OK. Punk Can Take It is a wonderful little snapshot of a time when punk was no longer in its infancy and you get to see the U.K. Subs live. By 1979 the second wave of punk had already been around for two years, Sid Vicious was dead, Hardcore, Oi! and New Wave were under way. Check out U.K. Subs: Punk Can Take It. Have some laughs, get inspired, learn a little history (or remember it if you were there). At the very least it’s only 18 minutes 59 seconds out of your day.

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Why 7? Because this is filler. Plus, haven’t lists rounded to the nearest 5 or 10 been overdone? In the meantime, if you want a top 10 list, post a comment with 3 more movies to round this list out and you will get my eternal gratitude and a cookie!


Wonderful movie about the mutual admiration of The Dandy Warhols and The Brian Jonestown Massacre and how it all goes wrong, for one band. Best line in a movie EVER, “You fucking broke my sitar, mother fucker!”

The Flaming Lips: Fearless Freaks

Made me really appreciate what they’e about by learning more about their process. It’s all about the process.

Metallica: Some Kind Of Monster

Band loses bass player, band finds bass player, band loses bass player, band loses singer, singer comes back, band finds bass player, and Bob Rock is adorable. I should know. I watch this movie 40 times a year.

Les Paul: Chasing Sound

Just amazing. See why every recording artist, regardless of genre, owes this man just about everything.

Shut Up & Sing

Or Why Country Music Fans Hate America No Matter How Patriotic They Sound. In all seriousness this is a must see. The Dixie Chicks kick ass.

History of Rock ‘N’ Roll

Want to learn how every major genre of rock music started and be entertained? No? Oh. Well watch this anyway.

LoudQUIETloud: A Film About The Pixies

Find out that indie cred doesn’t make you cool in real life. Oh, and Frank Black’s man boobs!

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You’re Gonna Miss Me is a documentary about Roger Kynard “Roky” Erickson. For those of you not in k the know Roky was a co-founder, guitarist and singer for 13th Floor Elevators, one of the first psychedelic bands of the 1960s. The film opens with a court scene in which Sumner Ericskon, Roky’s youngest brother, is attempting to gain guardianship of Roky from their mother Evelyn. So we have our set up for the movie-a family power struggle of sorts. Next we see the band performing their best known song “You’re Gonna Miss Me” on a 1966 TV appearance on Dick Clark’s show of while the likes of Billy Gibbons extol the talents of Roky and the glorious future 13th Floor Elevators should have had. Director Keven McAlester then juxtaposes the image of a young Roky and words of how amazing he was with a shot of his current self; older, heavy set, and, well a little off his nut and in need of someone else’s care. The rest of the film takes us through Roky’s drug use and persecution by local law enforcement and his incarceration in a mental facility. We get to see that even after 10 years of being commited Roky was able to come out and be fairly successful and prolific as a musician. And here’s the kicker, his music with Roky Erickson and the Aliens was good! But this is not a story of triumph, not yet anyway. Roky was mentally ill and needed treatment and medication the whole time after he was released. Instead he self medicated with a variety of illegal substances that contributed to his decline and eventual need of care.

You’re Gonna Miss Me is as much about Evelyn Erickson as it is Roky. She clearly has her own issues and spends a lot of time creating large murals and collages chronicling Roky’s rise and fall. We also get a little bit about how her husband and father of her four boys may have been a pedophile that completely jacked up one or all of the boys, but there is no follow up. Roky and Evelyn are kindred spirits. Both artistic and both a little bonkers. We get to see the filth they both live in. Evelyn and Roky appear to need visual and aural clutter to calm their frantic minds.

In the end Sumner does get guardianship of his brother and helps him get treatment with Sumner’s own therapist, or “mentor” as he calls her. The therapy scenes were physically painful for me as they don’t look at all like they would be helpful. She has the brothers march/walk in a circle. There is also a moment when the therapists asks Roky what he wants to do when he is better and he says he wants to go see his mother and talk to her. Sumner is visibly upset. Despite my opinion, the therapy has apparently worked as Roky has Roky Erickson and The Explosives and has been playing shows again, including 2007’s Bumbershoot.

This is an interesting film and is full of interesting characters. There is actually a lot to digest and I recommend multiple viewings. So much I haven’t touched on, like Evelyn’s exploitation of Roky for her wacked out home movies or a beautiful shot of the Erickson patriarch leaving Sumner’s house and walking right next door to his own. You have to see this to understand why it had such an impact on me. You’re Gonna Miss Me is a great documentary about some one who should be more famous and more successful than he is, but it is also a story of the triumph of brotherly love and responsibility.

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Originally released in 2003 Betty Blowtorch And Her Amazing True Life Adventures is a movie about the ups and downs of the band Betty Blowtorch. Anthony Scarpa spent two years filming the band and got some great footage. We get to see video shoots and record deals go south and Vanilla Ice doing a bong hit, but at it’s heart this is the story of the life of Bianca Butthole (née Bianca Halstead).

The movie opens with one of many Betty Boop clips that are unfortunately peppered throughout the movie. I understand what director Anthony Scarpa was doing, but I would have preferred they were kept out entirely. After that we see the band filming a video and this scene sets up the whole movie by showing you what Betty Blowtorch is all about right away. Off camera the video directors calls for “play back” and Bianca responds “No thank you. Sound” indicating they are not completely comfortable with the set up. They want to rock not pretend. A little bit into the shoot Bianca is on the receiving end of too much glitter confetti and has to take a moment to stop lip syncing. The filming continues until she can shake the glitter confetti attack. I love this scene because it highlights the ridiculousness and artifice of the music industry and the fact that Betty Blowtorch doesn’t quite fit in.

We then get to see the creation and disbanding of Butt Trumpet, the pre-Betty Blowtorch band. There are some great interviews with Thom Bone whose goal was to start “the last punk rock band.” His altruistic ideas and desire to sell $8 not $20 band shirts causes a rift within the band and leads to his leaving, or getting thrown out depending on who is being interviewed. The movie then shows us how Betty Blowtorch came to be in the post Butt Trumpet fall out. We get interviews with Duff McKagan, and get to see Rob Van Winkle, AKA Vanilla Ice, do a bong hit (did I already mention that?). And when the ending that I knew had to come does in fact come I was actually taken by surprise.

Betty Blowtorch And Her Amazing True Life Adventures has a few problems. The main problem being, for me, the length of the film and the editing choices. The Vanilla Ice segment could have been shortened (he does a bong hit btw) and there is a road story involving flinging pies and poo between vans that I would have liked to have seen put in the end credits instead of in the middle of the movie. Also there is a point where the band members have a falling out and we are given vague answers as to what started it; normal band tension on the road, managers mishandling communications. Scarpa could have delved a little more into this and gotten the band to open up so we could really know what was going on.

While Scarpa does find a narrative he needed to tighten this up a little more and tell a more concise story. I believe he could have cut some from this film and still honored Bianca’s memory. Though it is slow at times and could have been presented in a more compelling manner Betty Blowtorch And Her Amazing True Life Adventures is a great find and is for anyone who is a fan of rock music and loves an underdog (or wants to see Vanilla Ice do a bong hit-oh, and also rap about how big his manhood is).

This film is not rated, but is definitely for the “R” crowd.

Betty Blowtorch And Her Amazing True Life Adventures: directed by Anthony Scarpa; director of photography, Anthony Scarpa; edited by Anthony Scarpa; produced by Scott Milano, Jade Robledo, Anthony Scarpa, Kelly Spencer; With: Betty Blowtorch, Bianca Butthole, Blare N. Bitch, Sharon Needles, Judy Molish

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Stop Making Sense is, hands down, the best concert film I have ever seen. (Me, hyperbolic? never.)

Released in 1984 it was filmed over 3 nights in 1983 on the Speaking in Tongues tour. The movie opens with a shot of lead singer David Byrne’s shoes walking onto a bare stage. He sets down a boom-box and pushes play, a dramatic conceit, as a drum machine (a Roland TR-808, in point of fact) is actually pumping the beat through the sound system and Byrne performs Psycho Killer. More of the band and more of the set appear onstage with each song. The stage crew deserve big props for their hand in silently positioning risers and placing effects pedals. A descending backdrop completes the stage set about 17 min in.

Director Jonathan Demme uses long camera shots so that the viewer can truly take in all that the band has to offer. The lighting is subdued and straightforward so as not to detract from the band’s performance. One can really tell that Talking Heads and the additional backing band are enjoying themselves.

The sound and performance in Stop Making Sense are incredible. Every band member delivers the goods. Talking Heads are in top form and let the music stand on it’s own while eschewing between song banter. I have to admit I am always a huge fan of a band that gets down to business. The recording is superb. The sound on every song is mixed perfectly and is crystal clear due to the 24 track digital recording.

Stop Making Sense captures a point in time, but is still relevant today. All of the songs are solidly written and impeccably performed. The stage concept and directing mesh perfectly. This movie is a joy from beginning to end. It makes one feel a part of something bigger, something beautiful. Stop Making Sense is more than a concert movie, it is art.

One last thought. If a Talking Heads bio-pic is ever made I want Wil Wheaton to play David Byrne. Seriously. For reals. He would be genius.

Stop Making Sense: directed by Jonathan Demme; director of photography, Jordan Cronenweth; edited by Lisa Day; produced by Gary Goetzman; With: Talking Heads, David Byrne, Chris Frantz, Jerry Harrison, Tina Weymouth, Edna Holt, Lynn Mabry, Steve Scales, Alex Weir, Bernie Worrel



New York Times


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