Now that I’m back in cloudy, rainy F-L-A, I can emerge from my layers of winter clothes, finally put on a pair of sneakers again, and reflect on my last couple of days in Park City. By some strange quirk in the schedule, a nice chunk of my movies in the second half of my Package “A” happened to be music docs. Stewart Copeland’s Super-8 video diary of the meteoric rise of his little trio, EVERYONE STARES:THE POLICE INSIDE OUT, was fascinating even for the casual fan. Co-produced by Brit Marling and co-edited by Mike Cahill (BOXERS AND BALLERINAS, FFF 2005), the film features some amazing, rough versions of key songs (“Demolition Man!”) and reminds us of this supergroup’s punk roots. But I still wanted to ask him about the “Clark Kent” single ever coming out on CD.
GLASTONBURY is the latest offering from Julien Temple (THE FILTH AND THE FURY), an exhaustive portrait of the summer solstice music festival that’s been going on in the British countryside for 35 years now. Rather than identify artists and years and dwell on statistics, the film jumps back and forth through time to create a total experience of British eccentricities and incredible music (including the likes of the reformed Velvet Underground, Terry Reid, David Bowie, Black Uhuru, Steel Pulse, Pulp, Coldplay, and dozens of others both famous and obscure). In his introductory remarks, the director described the music festival “like a Woodstock that’s never ended.” Throw in a little FESTIVAL EXPRESS and a lot of “Burning Man” and you get the idea.
NEIL YOUNG: HEART OF GOLD is another exquisite concert film directed by Jonathan Demme (STOP MAKING SENSE, STOREFRONT HITCHCOCK). Shot at the wonderfully sounding, world famous Ryman Auditorium in Nashville by the likes of Ellen Kuras and Declan Quinn, this presentation of the recent “Prairie Wind” material and assorted acoustic greatest hits (along with one Ian Tyson cover) elevates them to a whole new level. Young looks fit after his recent medical issues and sounds great (as does his band of assorted Stray Gators, Emmylou Harris, his wife Peggy, and others), providing witty and poignant anecdotes throughout the two nights of filming in front of a packed house. A gentler, beautiful entry in the canon of concert films produced by this legendary musician, this probably won’t convert any non-believers. Genuine fans however, will be in heaven.
Short cuts: OPEN WINDOW – another terrific performance by Robin Tunney, but this aftermath-of-rape drama is overly melodramatic and features a lackluster male lead; ART SCHOOL CONFIDENTIAL – not quite GHOST WORLD, but an often hilarious and wickedly barbed satire about celebrity, college life, and the subjective nature of art; THE FOOT FIST WAY – absolutely hysterical North Carolina comedy about a deluded karate instructor, his troubled relationship with his trashy wife, and the body of students at his school. One of the funniest things I’ve seen in a long time; SUBJECT TWO – a somewhat gory but unscary modern spin on the Frankenstein legend set in the mountains of Aspen, Colorado. The need to keep murdering the med student-turned-immortality experiment subject over and over again was a nasty bit of business, but I saw the final twist coming a mile away. Still, a fairly cerebral indie horror flick does earn some points and admiration from this fan of the genre.
Finally, I’d like to give kudos to Sundance for coming up with an incredibly cool series of trailers this year. The whole Icarus and storytelling theme rendered in paper cut outs was very effective and colorful, and I can’t say I grew tired of them even after 18 viewings…remarkable.