Harsh Texture

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    • documentary
    • musical
    | Feb. 25, 2018, 7:14 p.m.
    Music documentaries have never been out of fashion. It's a reliable format that adopts an equally familiar template: open with a dynamic performance piece, then a series of talking heads gush over the as-yet introduced subject with all manner of hyperbole, finally the film contextualizes and proves the worth of the subject. In all the films released on musicians, none ever began with the subject physically assaulting the film crew until “Beware of Mr. Baker”. He’s just been told that other people will be interviewed about him to round out the feature. Baker responds by splitting open the
    • concert
    • documentary
    • musical
    | April 8, 2018, 12:24 p.m.
    Elvis and John Lennon loom over Hail Hail Rock and Roll like spectres. Chuck Berry may be the only other rock star of their pedigree and stature. The two pop up constantly when the interviewees search for a suitable comparison for Berry. Via archival footage John Lennon proclaims that if Rock ‘n Roll had another name it might be called “Chuck Berry”. Among the talking heads Hail Hail marshalls, there’s Berry’s contemporaries Little Richard, Bo Diddley, and Jerry Lee Lewis. They all seem to shrink in Berry’s presence. All their dalliances as chart toppers on the forefront
    • comedy
    • musical
    | April 2, 2017, 2:01 p.m.
    George Lucas is credited with kicking off the 50’s nostalgia movement with his American Graffiti. It was a vision of the last days of a golden era. Pristine, gorgeous cars, cruising round and round city centers packed with teens. Even if this was a setup for the gut-punch end title cards, in American Graffiti the good times were truly good. Hairspray arrived late to the party, four years after the American Graffiti derivative “Happy Days” mercifully ended, and when the nostalgia circuit was becoming a bit more cynical and jaundiced. Hairspray may smile just as wide as
    • documentary
    • musical
    | Nov. 19, 2017, 2 p.m.
    Normally posthumous bios exist to perpetuate myths, turning their subject into saints or demons. Mr. Dynamite pulls in the opposite direction. Almost a dozen of Brown’s associates work at stripping away the misconceptions and legends until we get an idea of the real man underneath. This may not have been possible during Brown’s lifetime. As the film makes clear, Brown’s life work was to recalibrate how the world viewed him. The means to this may have seemed subtle but were the product of meticulous discipline. He made sure his band always dressed in suits, even while traveling through the
    • documentary
    • musical
    | Jan. 21, 2018, 4:08 p.m.
    “Seymour: An Introduction” concerns itself with Seymour Bernstein. A small man who eeks out a modest living in a one bedroom rent-controlled apartment in New York City through providing piano lessons. However for decades Seymour was one of the preeminent classical pianists of his generation. He toured the world, received rave reviews from the notoriously gruff critics of the day, and enjoyed the patronage of wealthy dowagers. He is the subject of Ethan Hawke’s first documentary feature. It's clear Hawke views his subject with a mix of awe and respect. Seymour’s interviews are filmed in comfortable quarters.
    • comedy
    • drama
    • fantasy
    • musical
    | July 4, 2017, 3:42 p.m.
    The runaway success of the Jazz Singer forces the latest Don Lockwood/Lina Lamont romance picture to switch to being a talkie in mid production. No one seems to know how to film sound, and the final product is laughed out of the preview screenings. Lockwood is convinced he can save the picture by turning it into a musical, but his biggest obstacle is his co-star’s weedy voice. Maybe Singin’ in the Rain is not the greatest film ever released, but it typifies the best of the studio system. It may not be filet, but its still steak,
    • fantasy
    • mindfuck
    • musical
    | Feb. 18, 2018, 1:07 p.m.
    All of The Red Shoes seemed to build to the ballet sequence at its center. It arrived with force of a freight train and seem to shatter the staid reality of its narrative driving right into pure impressionistic filmmaking. It was a masterful sequence, one that the Archers (Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger) seemed to be building toward throughout their careers. You can’t fault them for trying to stretch such a sequence into a full feature. Tales of Hoffman is even billed as a reunion of the Red Shoes principals, especially Moira Shearer. Described by Powell as