16 posts categorized "Music"

March 06, 2019

MADE IN SHEFFIELD

MadeThe industrial city of Sheffield, England was the birthplace for the electronic pop explosion of cool post punk bands such as "Vice Versa," "The Human League," "Heaven 17," "ABC,” and "Cabaret Voltaire." Slick style and a rejection of cultural limitations at hand, these daring musicians created a utopian attitude of romanticized clarity and precision. 

Songs pulse, heat up, and grow on an international level in a bastion of fearless creativity. Here is an essential chapter of musical history brought to relevant life and context in fun documentary.   

In this enthusiastic, if brief (it clocks in at only 52 minutes), documentary filmmaker Eve Wood charts the lineage of musicians whose music inspired modern-day bands such as "Stereolab," "Ladytron," and "Peaches."

Made In Sheffield

Through insightful interviews with band members (such as Phil Oakey of The Human League), and rare live performance footage, "Made In Sheffield" fills an essential period that linked Punk to the British New Wave with bands intent on destroying rock music. Interview subjects such as the late John Peel, The Human League’s Phil Oakey and Ian Craig Marsh, and music critic Andy Gill shed light on the indispensable influence of Sheffield’s electronic music scene. This thrilling documentary is an important film for any serious music lover to learn about the origins of a time and place where musical creativity ran wild.

Not rated. 52 mins.Four Stars

COLE SMITHEY

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May 01, 2018

A POEM IS A NAKED PERSON

A-poem-is-a-naked-personLes Blank’s mind-bending filmic document of music legend Leon Russell is a rare anthropological social study wrapped in the post-Watergate culture of [roughly] 1973 Oklahoma. Not one to distance himself from interacting fully with the people around him, Blank creates a living and breathing document that is at once beautiful, dirty, inspiring, and cynical.

Scantily clad hippie chicks, river people, locals, and members of Leon Russell’s band receive ample screentime between Russell’s energetic concerts, recording sessions, and interviews. Jim Franklin, the artist hired to decorate Russell’s swimming pool, provides sharp social commentary though his surreal painting and in an especially gripping scene involving his pet boa constrictor and a baby chicken.

Leon Russell

Criterion’s 2K digital restoration reveals the magic in Les Blank’s free-form approach to his subject matter. Although the film’s producers (Leon Russell and Denny Cordell) disapproved of Blank’s determinedly cinema vérité movie so much that they refused to release it, “A Poem Is A Naked Person” is a one-of-a kind masterpiece that draws the viewer into its wild musically-influenced ride.

Leon Russell

Not only is Leon Russell’s legacy as one of American music’s most vibrant composers and performers savored here, so too is Les Blank’s intuitive genius as a filmmaker of grit, soul, and heart. This is one artistic historic filmic record that stands. Dig baby, dig. 

Poem is Naked

Not rated. 90 mins. (A+) (Five stars — out of five / no halves) 

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PATREON BUTTON

Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.

February 14, 2013

DON'T STOP BELIEVIN': EVERYMAN'S JOURNEY

Don't Stop Believin'Whether or not you are a fan of Journey’s music, Ramona S. Diaz’s uplifting documentary about Arnel Pineda’s rise from an impoverished Philippine youth to becoming the lead singer for a hugely successful rock band, will charm you. Discovered by Journey’s guitarist Neal Schon from thousands of YouTube videos, Arnel Pineda has the voice of an angel or a lion — depending on how you perceive his vocal power.

Short in stature but overflowing with exuberant youthful energy, Pineda wins over fans and detractors alike. The documentary isn’t the best-edited, but the filmmaker can hardly make a wrong move with the camera-friendly Arnel Pineda as her subject. Candid, funny, and grounded to his relationship with his wife, Pineda comes across a worthy recipient for all that fame and fortune has to offer. Having already conquered the lure of alcohol and drugs, Pineda's attention to his health allows him to perform with a staggering amount of energy.

Colesmithey.com

Even Iggy Pop never had anything on this guy. The filmmaker does manage to ask the correct question of Journey’s manager, who reveals that Arnel is indeed a fully vested member of the five-man band; he receives the same amount of money as his adoring band mates. It’s fascinating to see how a young singer from Manila can transform a classic rock band of aging white guys into a super-band. In the case of Journey especially, Arnel Pineda proves the postulate that, “It’s the singer, not the song.”

Colesmithey.com

Not Rated. 105 mins.

3 Stars

Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.

This website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel.

Get cool rewards when you click on the button to pledge your support through Patreon.

Cole Smithey on Patreon

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