“. . .rock ‘n’ roll is always a quintessentially B art form. Its potency, even the bulk of its charm, has always been about no respect for artistic authority, musical elegance, refinement of taste, or virtuosity.” So write David Sterritt and John Anderson in the introduction to one of the 11 sections in their eclectically focused selection of essays culled from sources ranging from the Los Angeles Times to tcm.com, The B List (Da Capo Press; $15.95). The section in question is titled “Whole Lotta Shakin’: Rock, Pop, and Beyond,” and it contains essays on the movies The Buddy Holly Story, King Creole, American Hot Wax, The Girl Can’t Help It, and Greendale. The essay on Neil Young’s Greendale, by Sam Adams, contributing editor at Philadelphia City Paper, is quite possibly worth the better part of the price of this collection of essays on that movie as well as 57 others that Sterritt and Anderson encompass in the subtitle The National Society of Film Critics on the Low-Budget Beauties, Genre-Bending Mavericks, and Cult Classics We Love.
Sterritt, chairman of the National Society of Film Critics and a film professor at Columbia, and Anderson, a writer for venues including Variety, miss the point vis-à-vis B movies and rock and roll. A better way of looking at it is that a B movie is to a full-blown feature what a B side is to a disc. Peter Keough, a film editor at the Boston Phoenix, writes in one of the collected essays, “Traditionally, the term B movie refers to those cheap, readily accessible, generally lurid exploitation films from pulpy genres designed to fill the second billing for the main feature.” The occasion of his essay is Francis Ford Coppola‘s The Conversation (1974), which was made just after The Godfather. Clearly, Coppola didn’t make a film that had “no respect for artistic authority;” Keough points out that Coppola acknowledged Michelangelo Antonioni‘s Blow-Up (1966) as inspiration for the film; Blow-Up was nominated for two Academy Awards (director; screenplay), and while it didn’t win either, let’s face it: back then, mainstream was the only stream so far as the Academy was concerned. Keough writes that The Conversation represented a “new kind of B picture,. . . an intensely personal expression of the filmmaker’s soul.”
One of the great things about the movie Juno is how the music plays a vital role in the film itself. But because the record industry is so fucked, it took a label until the first week in January to get around to releasing a soundtrack to it. That’s a full month after the word of mouth on this comedic tale of a sassy teenager contending with an unexpected pregnancy was already in full swing. To be fair, the soundtrack has been available as a digital only release since early December, but there was enough interest in an antiquated format to land the CD release in the Billboard Top 10.
When you see the movie, you will understand why there is a veritable cottage industry sprouting from the film’s wake. You can now get hamburger phones just like Juno’s character and it wouldn’t surprise me if there were a huge resurgence in orange flavored Tic-Tacs.
But it’s the soundtrack that will probably see the biggest benefit from the film, a generation-crossing compilation of anti-folk scene enhancers, classic rock reference points, and mix-tape conversation pieces. And like a good mix-tape, the original motion picture soundtrack to Juno works surprisingly well.
First: Apologies to the PR agent who sent this film to GLONO HQ a few years ago. It’s been peeking out at us from the cluttered bookshelf all these days and nights and we just never got the mustard up to watch it. I don’t exactly know why. We like T.Rex plenty and who doesn’t love a jacked up Ringo Starr from the early 70s? For whatever reason, we just weren’t inspired to watch it…until Saturday night.
In an effort to blow through the brittle cold of a Chicago winter and the recently imposed smoking ban in every public building (including bars and live music venues), we decided to host a Rock and Roll Movie Night for Losers; a sort of viewing party to review our backlog of DVDs and an excuse to drink with Ringo. Born to Boogie seemed a natural for the inaugural night.
If you know anything at all about T.Rex you know that it’s really two guys: Singer, songwriter, guitarist, and chief “Boogie Bopper” Marc Bolan; and percussionist Micky Finn. The rest is a rotating cast of players who supported the variations of T.Rex and Bolan’s fluid musical aspiration until his death at age 29 in 1977. In the few years he reigned the British charts, Bolan aspired to Beatledom heights but inevitably launched the parade of British phenoms whose acts never translated to American audiences. Britain seems fine with that.
Oasis – Lord Don’t Slow Me Down (Sony Music) The British big mouths come back with a tasty tour diary documenting their 2005 tour in support of Don’t Believe the Truth and prove there’s more to them than fights and outrageous press quotes.
We understand, you know. Oasis fans know why you don’t like the band. We know that they’re all attitude and that their music veers awfully close to parody of classic British bands of yesteryear. We get that the Gallagher brothers’ drama and arrogance wears thin on most people. Yes, we get it. We just think you’re being uptight dicks about it.
Lord Don’t Slow Me Down is the concert diary of the band’s 2005 world tour supporting their sixth studio album, Don’t Believe the Truth. The film is marketed as a documentary but it’s hardly that. If you had never heard of Oasis before seeing the movie you’d never know after watching it that the only remaining founding members are Noel and Liam Gallagher, that they were instrumental in a massive British music resurgence in the mid-1990s, that they helped get Tony Blair elected as Prime Minister (and then subsequently snubbed), or that this tour was for an album that ranks as one of their best since their 1995 breakout, What’s the Story Morning Glory, which catapulted the band to enormous success and established them as the rock and roll stars they live up to every day. All you’d know after watching the film is that Oasis is a band of British mush mouths who have a lot of fans and are clearly bored with the media trappings that are required to support a world tour in this day and age.
Director Julie Taymor’s latest film, Across the Universe, chronicles the 1960s through the use of Beatles songs, spanning their entire catalogue. Considering Taymor’s knack for creating incredible visual spectacles (Frida), as well as the continued relevance of the music of the Beatles, this might be a great idea.
We follow the story of Jude (Jim Sturgess), a young artist from Liverpool in search of his father, and Lucy (Evan Rachel Wood), a young suburbanite in search of what she believes in. They meet through her brother, Maxwell, a college dropout, and fall in love. Along the way they run into Sadie, a rock singer with a big, raspy voice, JoJo, an electric guitar player, and Prudence, a girl who keeps running from her problems.
According to Billboard, The Beatles’ Help!will be released in a double-DVD edition on October 30, digitally restored with a new 5.1 audio soundtrack. The second disc will contain “a 30-minute documentary about the making of the movie, a missing scene, a featurette on the restoration process, interviews with cast and crew, three theatrical trailers and vintage radio advertisements.”
There will also be a boxed set that features “a reproduction of director Richard Lester’s original script and a 60-page book with rare photos and production notes.”
This will be the third time Help! has been released on DVD, but it’s been off the market since 2000 “due to rights issues.” I wonder what those issues are. And more importantly, when the fuck are they going to release Let It Be? Seriously, EMI, get your shit together regarding the Beatles.
Detroit Tango publishes the United States District Court’s Findings Of Fact And Conclusions Of Law (along with some pointed commentary) in the case that prevented the MC5 documentary, A True Testimonial, from being distributed.
The gist: the judge ruled in favor of the filmmakers.
The Honorable Andrew J. Guilford, United States District Judge, issued his ruling on March 31, 2007. My favorite “fact” is this one:
31. Defendants were first-time filmmakers who spent eight years of their lives trying to create a documentary film that would be historically truthful, a documentary that would celebrate the talent and creativity of the MC5 band, a documentary that would say something about the 60’s, and would say something about the present. They succeeded, and the film merits wide distribution for the enjoyment and edification of the masses.
I’ve seen the movie and I wholeheartedly agree with Judge Guilford: it deserves to be seen. Let’s hope everyone involved can set aside their differences and get this movie out to the people who need to see it. Hey Rhino, make it happen!