Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Film Festival News: The 2009 Phoenix Film Festival Runs 4/2 through 4/9 -- Details & Showcase Feature Films Info.



The 9th Annual Phoenix Film Festival – Arizona’s largest film festival.

Thursday, April 2nd through Thursday, April 9th, 2009

Harkins Scottsdale 101 & Cine Capri
5000 Mayo Blvd. – PHX
(one block South of LOOP 101 & one block East of Scottsdale Rd.)

Bill Engvall (Blue Collar Comedy Tour) Virginia Madsen (Sideways), Amy Smart (Crank), Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me), Yeardley Smith (The Simpsons), Johnathan Schaech (That Thing You Do!)

• The 9th Annual Phoenix Film Festival kicks off at 7:30 p.m. with the screening of showcase
feature The Answer Man, starring Jeff Daniels. Director John Hindman will be in attendance.

• Filmmaker Morgan Spurlock will be on hand for a Q&A following a screening of the film Hi
My Name Is Ryan, about a local Phoenix performance artist, at 10 p.m.

• Public Film Screenings begins at 9a.m.
• Friday morning marks the 3rd Middle and High School Educational Outreach Seminar.
Students will engage in panel discussions with local, national, celebrity, and independent
filmmakers on topics such as documentary films and narrative films
• Jonathan Schaech (That Thing You Do!) will attend the screening if his new film Poker Club
at 7:40 p.m.
Jolene, a film staring Chaz Palminteri, Durmot Mulroney, and Denise Richards shot entirely in
Arizona, screens at 7:30 p.m.
• You can see the Sundance hit, Fuel, a documentary about our dependence on oil, at 7:15 p.m.
• Friday Night Party from 9p.m. to 1a.m.

• Public film screenings begin at 9a.m.
• The gorgeous new Disney documentary Earth, will screen at 4:45 p.m.
Waiting For Ophelia will screen at 9:15 p.m. Actress Yeadley Smith (the voice of Lisa
Simpson) will host a Q&A session after the film.
• Virginia and Elaine Madsen will host a Q&A after a screening of their film I Know a Woman
Like That at 7:30 p.m.
• The world premiere of Official Rejection, a documentary about film festivals featuring
interviews with Kevin Smith, Jenna Fischer, and Bryan Singer.

• Public Film Screenings begin at 9a.m.
• Screening of the short film Cowboy Dreams, starring Bill Engvall. He will host a discussion immediately following at 5 p.m.
The Merry Gentleman, the directorial debut from Michael Keaton, will show in the Cine Capri
at 7:00 p.m.
• The Sunday night Awards Party begins at 9:00 p.m.

• Public film screenings begin at 5p.m.
Baby Boomerang, a WWII documentary that took over 14 years to make, will be shown at 5:30

• Public screenings begin at 5p.m.
• Another chance to see the film that wins Best Picture at the festival, at 7:10 p.m
American Violet, starring Alfre Woodard, Michael O’Keefe and Tim Blake Nelson screens at
7:00 p.m.
• At 7:20 p.m. you can see The Burning Plain, starring Kim Basinger and Charlize Theron.

• Public screenings begin at 5p.m.
500 Days of Summer, the highly buzzed about film starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and
Zooey Deschanel screens at 7:20 p.m.

• Public screenings begin at 5p.m.
• Screening of Closing Night film, Love N’ Dancing, followed by a discussion with stars Amy
Smart and Tom Malloy.

New this year, The Midnight Movie Mamacita will present a series of horror and
SNACKS: thriller films on Friday and Saturday nights. These will include Grace, Alien Trespass,
and Bronson, among others. These start at 10:00 p.m. both nights.

The Phoenix Film Festival and IFP Phoenix invites teachers and
OUTREACH students interested in the art of filmmaking to participate in a series of educational
Seminars that take place during the day throughout this year’s festival.

• Opening Night Event - $40
• Individual - $10
• Flex - $30
• Festival - $150
• VIP - $425

Visit the Official Phoenix Film Festival Website for More Information

Explore Some of 2008's
Acclaimed PFF Features

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I Know a Woman Like That
Directed by: Elaine Madsen
Run Time: 101 minutes
Screening Time: Saturday, April 4th at 7:30 PM
A documentary exploring the lives and discovery of opportunities that women ages 64 to 94 have.

500 Days of Summer

Directed by: Marc Webb
Starring: Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Run Time: 95 minutes
Screening Time: Wednesday, April 8th at 7:20 PM
An offbeat romantic comedy about a woman who doesn't believe true love exists, and the young man who falls for her.

Official Rejection

Directed by: Paul Osborne
Featuring: Kevin Smith, Jenna Fischer and Andy Dick
Run Times: Saturday, April 4th at 7:00 PM; Sunday, April 5th at 4:35 PM
A documentary that follows filmmakers along the film festival circuit and the pitfalls, triumphs and comic tragedies that they encounter.

The Poker Club
Directed by: Tim McCann
Starring: Johnathon Schaech, Judy Reyes and Johnny Messner
Run Time: Friday, April 3rd at 7:40 PM
A poker night with the guys turns deadly when they accidentally kill a burglar in this horrifying thriller.


Directed by: Dan Ireland
Starring: Denise Richards, Dermot Mulroney and Michael Vartan
Run Time: 120 minutes
Screening Times: Friday, April 3rd at 7:30 PM; Sunday, April 5th at 3:45 PM
Jolene follows a young girl on her quest to find herself as she passes through a series of relationships, adventures and misfortunes which take her across America.

The Merry Gentleman

Directed by:
Michael Keaton
Starring: Michael Keaton, Kelly Macdonald and Tom Bastounes
Run Time: 110 minutes
Screening Times: Sunday, April 5th at 7:00 PM
A young woman moves to Chicago to start a new life where she meets a suicidal hit man and a worn, alcoholic detective.

Waiting for Ophelia
Directed by: Adam Carl
Starring: Yeardley Smith, Patrick Day and Amy Sloan
Run Time: 99 minutes
Screening Times: Saturday, April 4th at 9:15 PM; Tuesday, April 7th at 5:20 PM
A couple celebrates their anniversary with friends and family, but as they wait for a guest to show, it is clear that the night is not shaping up to be what they expected.

Were the World Mine
Directed by: Tom Gustafson
Starring: Judy McLane, Tanner Cohen and Nathaniel David Becker
Run Time: 95 minutes
Screening Times: Saturday, April 4th at 7:15 PM
In this musical film, Timothy stumbles upon a love potion while preparing for his high school play and he creates a fantasy dream world where most of the town is gay.


Directed by: Alastair Fothergill and Mark Linfield
Run Time: 90 minutes
Screening Time: Saturday, April 4th at 4:45 PM
Feature-length version of the documentary TV series "Planet Earth" (2006), following the migration paths of four animal families. Narrated by James Earl Jones.

Is There Anybody There?
Directed by: John Crowley
Starring: Thelma Barlow, Michael Caine
Run Time: 95 Minutes
Screening Time: Friday, April 3rd at 8:30 PM; Wednesday, April 8th at 7:10 PM
Edward is an unusual ten year old boy growing up in an old people's home run by his parents. His days are spent tape-recording the elderly residents to try and discover what happens when they die. Increasingly obsessed with ghosts and the afterlife, he meets Clarence, the latest recruit to the home, a retired magician with a liberating streak of anarchy.

The Burning Plain
Directed by: Guillermo Arriaga
Featuring: Kim Basinger, Charlize Theron
Run Time: 106 Minutes
Screening Time: Tuesday, April 7th at 7:20 PM
A drama with a two-tiered storyline concerning a mother and daughter who try to form a bond after the young woman's difficult childhood.

Directed by: Joshua Tickell
Run Time: Friday, April 3rd at 7:15 PM
An insightful portrait of America’s addiction to oil and an uplifting testament to the immediacy of new energy solutions. A surprising array of environmentalists, policy makers, and entertainment notables take us through America’s complicated, often ignominious energy past and illuminate a hopeful, achievable future, where decentralized, sustainable living is not only possible, it’s imperative.

American Violet
Directed by: Tim Disney
Starring: Alfre Woodard, Nicole Beharie, Michael O’Keefe, Will Patton
Screening Date: Saturday, April 4th at 8:30 PM; Tuesday, April 7th at 7:00 PM
A twenty-something African-American single mom struggles to make ends meet in a small Texas town. When cops arrest her in a drug sweep, she insists on her innocence. Refusing a plea bargain that would allow her to avoid jail time, she stands up against a corrupt law enforcement and judicial system.

Alien Trespass
Directed by: R.W. Goodwin
Starring: Eric McCormack, Jenny Baird
Run Time: 90 minutes
Screening Time: Saturday, April 4th at 10:10 PM; Sunday, April 5th at 5:15 PM
A spaceship crash in 1957 California leads to the escape of the alien life form Ghota.In order to capture the Ghota, a benevolent alien named Urp takes over the body of an astronomer and enlists the aid of a waitress named Tammy. But, unless Urp and Tammy are successful, mankind is doomed.

Not Forgotten
Directed by: Dror Soref
Starring: Simon Baker, Paz Vega
Run Time: 100 minutes
Screening Time: Saturday, April 4th at 10:30 PM; Monday, April 6th at 7:10 PM
Set in a Tex-Mex border town, Not Forgotten is a classic psychological thriller about Jack and Amaya Bishop, a couple who must come to terms with their tortured pasts in order to save their kidnapped daughter. It is a tale taut with intrigue and steeped in Latino mysticism, where the line between what's real and what's imagined becomes hopelessly blurred.

Plague Town
Directed by: David Gregory
Run Time: 88 minutes
Starring: Josslyn DeCrosta, Erica Rhodes
Run Times: Friday, April 3rd at 10:20 PM; Saturday, April 4th at 10:15 PM
An American family visiting their Irish roots accidentally stumbles on a horde of bloodthirsty mutant children.

My Apocalypse
Directed by: Chris LaMont
Run Time: 82 minutes
Screening Time: Friday, April 3rd at 9:45 PM
Stewart Savage lives in a soft-focus universe, where his girlfriend adores him and his family is wholesome. He also lives in a world where he strangles his girlfriends, hates his job and prefers the psychotic solace of the world inside his head. Unaware of the rift between preferred and actual reality, Stewart brings his latest girlfriend home to meet the parents for a family birthday celebration, not fully realizing that she is his latest victim.

Directed by: Paul Solet
Starring: Jordan Ladd, Gabrielle Rose
Run Time: 85 minutes
Screening Time: Friday, April 3rd at 10:10 PM; Wednesday, April 8th at 9:20 PM
Madeline Matheson is eight months pregnant and determined to deliver her unborn child, Grace, naturally. When an accident leaves Grace dead inside her, Madeline insists on carrying the baby's corpse to term. Weeks later, when Madeline delivers, the baby miraculously returns to life... With an appetite.

Directed by: Nicolas Winding Refn
Starring: Tom Hardy, Matt King
Run Time: 92 minutes
Screening Time: Saturday, April 4th at 10:00 PM; Tuesday, April 7th at 9:20 PM
In 1974, a misguided 19 year old named Michael Peterson decided he wanted to make a name for himself and so, with a homemade sawn-off shotgun and a head full of dreams he attempted to rob a post office. Swiftly apprehended and originally sentenced to 7 years in jail, Peterson has subsequently been behind bars for 34 years, 30 of which have been spent in solitary confinement.

Red Corvette
Directed by: Brenton Covington
Starring: Patrick Adam, Cristen Irene
Run Time: 89 minutes
Screening Times: Friday, April 3rd at 10:00 PM
A young man finds a lost cache of marijuana and turns his life and the life of his friends upside down.

Wet Hot American Summer
Directed by: David Wain
Starring: Janeane Garofalo, David Hyde Pierce
Run Time: 97 minutes
Screening Time: Friday, April 3rd at 10:30 PM
It's the last day of summer camp before everyone goes back to the real world, but there's still a summer's worth of unfinished business to resolve. Camp director Beth struggles to keep order while she falls in love with the local astrophysics professor who is busy trying to save the camp from a deadly piece of NASA's Skylab which is hurtling toward earth. All that, plus: a dangerous waterfall rescue, love triangles, misfits, cool kids, and talking vegetable cans.

Music Documentary DVD Review: 'Tis Autumn: The Search for Jackie Paris (2005)

The Search Arrives on DVD


Download The Music of Jackie Paris
On iTunes

Jackie Paris

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Long before the advent of Google searches, Wikipedia, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube-- when someone wanted to learn more about a subject, they had to venture to enormous buildings like libraries and stores which housed big, heavy, dust collecting, paper filled items called books.

And, of course, the mother of all texts--reliability-wise-- was a reference book or an encyclopedia as surely, the authors would have to fact check and one would assume that unlike Wikipedia (which can be updated by anyone), everything would need to be verified... or so you would think.

In 1991 Oscar nominated and Sundance award-winning filmmaker and jazz musician Raymond De Felitta found himself in awe of an unfamiliar voice crooning on a local radio station playing Charles Mingus' Paris in Blue. Simply put, De Felitta was hooked.

Mesmerized by what he’d heard, De Felitta set about tracking down every recording he could of the jazz singer Jackie Paris that resulted in obscure discoveries such as Japanese imports of classic albums including one misfiled under the name of Oscar Peterson. In addition to the the musical side, he also yearned to uncover more about the musician with pitch-perfect phrasing.

The biographical trail of Jackie Paris moved from hot to cool in the 1960s as the British Invasion made jazz a figurative musical dinosaur. And following that all information regarding Paris's life journeyed from cool to frozen in the 1970s when decades later, De Felitta read in a well-respected jazz-centric biographical encyclopedia that stated that Jackie Paris had died in 1977, while only in his early 50s.

Upon this newly acquired information, the filmmaker was content with what De Felitta referred to as his collection of “the handful of CDs and vinyl that comprised the meager but glorious output of Paris's career,” which included his signature rendition of “Skylark”-- his most famous and swoony work. And moreover, essentially to De Felitta the story of Jackie Paris seemed to end there in the all-too familiar jazz ending of death with more of the man's soul being captured on vinyl than in the history books.

However, his fascination with the Italian-American, New Jersey native who grew up entertaining, tap dancing and singing with a veritable who’s who of jazz legends (including Charlie Parker with whom sadly he never recorded any material despite a six month tour) never waned. Likewise, De Felitta became the latest in a long line of fans.

And even later he ascertained that Paris’s allegiance of admirers also had included the loftiest of greats from the era: Peggy Lee, who had arranged an elaborate audition for Jackie Paris with a major label; Lenny Bruce who helped him perfect his stage presence and humor as his opening act in one of the documentary’s most fascinating discoveries as a letter penned by Bruce is read aloud; musician Billy Vera who dubbed Paris “Chet Baker times ten”; later referred to as “the kissy singer” by Sarah Vaughan; as well as being called the personal favorite singer of Ms. Ella Fitzgerald.

Yet while his envious musical resume and near jazz-version of the six degrees of Kevin Bacon which linked him in roughly three degrees or less with every major recording artist in his jazz heyday was epic, De Felitta received the greatest shock when thirteen years following the first time he’d heard Paris’s voice over the speakers of his car, he learned that the “dead” singer was anything but.

When De Felitta happened upon a brief New Yorker magazine notice featuring club dates for the local Jazz Standard in 2004 with the name of Jackie Paris as the main attraction, he was stunned. “Jackie Paris? The one who died in 1977? How is he singing? Via a Ouija board?” De Felitta wondered but taking the chance, he decided to go.

Once he landed inside The Standard, he realized that “Paris was alive -- not exactly well, but still handsome and charismatic. And he was in fine form, singing a set that included three of my favorites...”although, while Jackie Paris politely but crisply dismissed him --which led De Felitta to the realization that "not all was peaceful in Parisland,” when he ventured back again the following evening, Paris started to warm up. Much to his amazement, Jackie Paris spoke to him in earnest between sets wherein he confessed that “he was terminally ill” and that therefore, this was probably his final gig.

In response, De Felitta went into overdrive blending together both the roles of fan and filmmaker and wanting to record it as a legacy “to bring the world's attention [to] the singer whose work I'd found so compellingly beautiful.” To this end, “working with borrowed video equipment,” he spent seven weeks with Paris before the man passed away on June 14 of the same year.

However, what started as a “tribute film,” filled with reminisces, interviews, and other accounts from both Paris himself along with others with whom he’s played, lived and loved whose phone numbers and addresses the musician graciously offered the filmmaker soon became a bit more of a mystery as De Felitta changed the approach from an introduction to one that took a more analytical stance.

Dedicating more energy to his new thesis of why Jackie Paris had become as the film's tag-line described “the greatest singer you've never heard,” De Felitta went to unprecedented lengths to address just why the man was always on the brink of stardom but repeatedly fell into obscurity.

Although he never really arrives at a set conclusion, several possible reasons are given in this fascinating piece of musical documentary portraiture which serves up the usual suspects as well as a decidedly different side to the man we’re consistently faced with throughout. Admirably he takes Jackie at his word and never probed him directly even though he had evidence to the contrary about some issues with which the man was less than forthcoming.

Yet, meanwhile De Felitta introduces us to two very different women who were both at one point Mrs. Jackie Paris, along with relatives, a denied son, etc. as we’re faced with tales of ego, temper, deep-rooted family dysfunction (in the form of a devastating account of his brother and abusive father), along with questions of whether refusing mafia support of his career or slugging the wrong club owner who was most likely "connected" always kept him from the top.

Overall, this routinely makes for a mesmerizing film that evolves much like an improvised jazz riff throughout its changes in tempo where some are successful with only a few rough patches in editing as we remain a bit foggy about some of the facts like we’d had a sax blaring too close to our eardrum for a bit.

However, the one issue that remains a subtext that's only vaguely questioned by De Felitta in his voice over narration at the end when quoting Orson Welles is just how much we need to know about artists to dig their work. And, likewise, whether or not the “search” for Jackie Paris was really a mystery in the end if he was happily living under the radar, definitely bitter about wasted potential, missed opportunities, and lack of money but essentially okay in his New York life.

This is especially the case since—while I’m incredibly grateful for De Felitta’s passion, compassion, and integrity in introducing a wonderful overlooked talent to a new generation—ultimately, I feel nearly as confused as I was near the beginning and still have just as many questions about Paris as I had from the middle of the picture to when the final credits began to roll.

This being said, the intent and style shown by De Felitta is warm and inviting. And it's what carries us through the work, despite the mysterious head-scratching footage we’re sometimes shown with contradictory interviews and a few loose ends that seem like they were left abandoned on the floor of the cutting room such as the discussion of a “wife?” who died of cancer and then talk of a divorce enters in the same sentence and a few interviewees aren’t identified at all. Yet this is all easy to overlook as soon as Jackie Paris’s astounding voice fills the soundtrack and when you couple this with the exquisite care he took towards his subject, De Felitta’s ‘Tis Autumn is a great find for jazz fans and documentary lovers alike.

Nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, De Felitta’s Search marks his strongest work since I first discovered his overlooked, Sundance Audience Award winning sleeper Two Family House which is not only a personal indie favorite—but much like this film—a highly personal work for the director and one in which his passion is so infectious that I selected it without hesitation for inclusion in a local film series I ran in our community.

And similarly--just like House had people nodding along to the music in their seats—‘Tis Autumn will definitely make you want to rush out and track down the music you can find by the musician… if, that is, there’s still any left in print here in the United States. So in other words, our “musical” Search for Jackie Paris continues.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Music Review: Glasvegas -- Glasvegas

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Glasvegas on iTunes
(Click the Icon Below)

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Produced by frontman and songwriter James Allan along with Rick Costey (Fran Ferdinand, Interpol, Muse), the debut release from the group proclaimed by NME as "the greatest new rock and roll band in the world," offers a magical melodic rush to the ears of listeners in something close to auditory hypnosis that runs throughout the twelve track disc.

From its deceptively gorgeous, hauntingly orchestral opener "Flowers & Football Tops" which was crafted in response by Allan following a fifteen year old's racially motivated murder in 2004 as a way to empathize with the incredible pain he witnessed on the victim's mother's face in a newspaper photograph-- the idea of musical poetry that expresses a humanistic desire flows throughout the album.

Glasvegas follows up the beautiful first song with the album's debut single "Geraldine," that emphasizes "a person showing another person compassion," as Allan explains. In calling the work a "poem" in the vein of the types he wrote as a boy before he found himself fascinated by the records heard regularly in his mother's and sister's collection-- the dreamy old-fashioned blend of glittery modern UK compositions with American rockabilly and sun-drenched surf music, as well as the epic studio produced compilations from the '50s and '60s proves to be an infectious concoction that's hard to pin down throughout. Likewise,the music of Glasvegas sounds unabashedly international-- contradictorily old and new at the same time.

Having invented the band's name before he'd even written his first song in an attempt to evoke "the industrial working class grit of his native Glasgow and the... high rolling no-clocks no-windows 24-hour-party promise of Las Vegas," Allan continues in the official Columbia Records biography that he longed for the band's name "to be proud and unapologetic" since he felt "in the past, Scotland was quite good at putting itself down [and]... everybody sang with a vague American-ish accent."

Although American music remains a definite influence given his older sister's devotion to everything from Madonna to Bob Marley and his mother's love of classic rock from the likes of The Righteous Brothers and Roy Orbison-- Allan began to envision the ways the poetry he started writing around the age of ten would go along with "the pop melodies he could hear in his head."

Calling the moment he announced to his family that he liked playing his sister's guitar, his own "version of coming out of the closet," he and his cousin Rab became in his words "the Glaswegian Everly Brothers." Eventually adding in both schoolmate Paul Donoghue on bass and Caroline McKay on drums whose beauty they described as looking "like something out of a movie," soon with his older sister taking on the role of a producer, they released their do-it-yourself hit single "Go Square Go!" which was followed up by "Daddy's Gone," both of which were re-recorded and included on this new release.

Having managed to score a gig at the renowned Glasgow King Tut's Wah Wah Hut (which helped launch "Oasis, Radiohead, Beck, Travis, and others"), the group ,who soon began to sense the energy and excitement as they gained momentum, recognition, awards, along with a growing following among fans and critics alike scored lofty praise from the BBC who described the group as follows: "Glasvegas draw on rockabilly and pop from the 1950s and '60s, using a backdrop of brooding guitars to create their own wall of sound, a bit like the Jesus and Mary Chain playing the 'Grease' soundtrack."

While their music defies labels moving from descriptions that involve the assertion that Glasvegas boasts a "tsunami of guitar noise, which clearly traces to Phil Spector," or as Allan phrased it in Spin Magazine, a "crescendo of demise," in one of the records' standout tracks "It's My Own Cheating Heart That Makes Me Cry," and comparisons to "sixties girl groups and the Velvet Underground's rain-dance pulse," by Rolling Stone-- the only thing I can say after weeks upon weeks of leaving it playing on repeat in my car stereo is buy it, live it, and decide for yourself.

In the sweeping and grandiose arrangement heard in the heartrending "Cheating Heart" that moves up and down the musical scale in a way that defies one not to move or sing along, the band switches gears once again in the rebel-rousing "Go Square Go," which turns the f-word--when sung in Allan's adorable accent-- into a sweet nothing.

Moving eventually to the very '60s retro "la la la la" stylings of "Daddy's Gone," to the bizarre spoken-word "Stabbed" that stops the mini-symphony dead in its tracks, their self-titled debut album is on the short-list as being not only my favorite record of 2009 but one of the best CDs I've listened to in recent memory.

Currently in the midst of a tour and routinely selling out in major markets like New York and Los Angeles following a successful performance on Late Night With David Letterman that helped introduce the Scottish group to American listeners-- while this is the first thing we've heard from this musically ambitious band, something tells me it definitely won't be the last.

Moreover, their unique sound seems to argue that they'll have a staying power that continues much longer than the "UK flavor of the Month Bands" that have flown far above and then unspeakably below the radar in recent memory. In other words or as they most appropriately sing-- when it comes to Glasvegas-- "here we, here we, here we, here we f***ing go" indeed.


1) Flowers & Football Tops
2) Geraldine
3) It's My Own Cheating Heart That Makes Me Cry
4) Lonesome Swan
5) Go Square Go
6) Polmont On My Mind
7) Daddy's Gone
8) Stabbed
9) S.A.D. Light
10) Ice Cream Van

Bonus Tracks

11) The Prettiest Thing on Saltcoats Beach
12) Everybody's Got To Learn Sometime

Music DVD Review: Iggy Pop -- Lust For Life (1986)

Now Available on DVD

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Iggy Pop

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Although it's hard to argue that the music of Iggy Pop is “worth a million in prizes” as he sings in his most famous hit “Lust For Life” (which first landed on my radar following its inclusion in Danny Boyle's film Trainspotting), my first image of the man himself came from his appearance in Jim Jarmusch’s understated arty movie Coffee and Cigarettes.

In its episodic structure-- filmed over the course of nearly two decades-- Jarmusch, who has always employed musicians since his early breakout hit Stranger than Paradise, offered small groups of people (two or more) the chance to shoot the breeze over the requisite coffee and cigarettes.

In the case of Iggy Pop -- Jarmusch stuck him across the table from none other than Tom Waits. In a hilariously awkward conversation wherein Pop informs Waits that he could just call him by his birth name of Jim (as in James Newell Osterberg, Jr.), instead and continually busting his balls, Waits opts to engage in a verbal chess match that exploits both men's egos, alter-egos, and insecurities, and the result is priceless.

Yes, Iggy Pop-- the iconic and mostly shirtless “Godfather of Punk”-- who spent the earliest part of his musical career on the verge of self-destruction via drugs and onstage mutilation, seems downright casual, fully-together, and meek by comparison to Waits in the tongue-in-cheek exchange fueled by male pride and too much caffeine.

What a difference a few decades makes and this is definitely evident in thebrand-new DVD release of Iggy Pop – Lust For Life, which was originally filmed for German television in 1986 following his success with the single “Real Wild Child” and the Blah Blah Blah album.

Clocking in at roughly forty minutes and filled with candid interview footage featuring both Pop and former Stooges guitarist (the late Ron Asheton who sadly passed away this January) along with archived video and audio clips-- the disc which begins with Pop’s modern shirtless performance of the title track-- quickly segues into his own recollection of what first drew him to music.

Recalling a youth spent in Michigan fascinated by the sound of the endless electrical hum of everything around him with a life-changing breakthrough upon seeing firsthand the machine press at a local Ford Motor Plant, the young man began playing drums around his house and spent his entire high school career in the successful local group The Iguanas (from which he derived his stage name “Iggy.”)

Although he had enrolled and briefly attended the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor but spent most of his time avoiding class in favor of coffee and sugar which inevitably led to sleepy crashes that found him missing his coursework-- soon Pop made the decision that he'd gotten as much out of that particular town as he possibly could.

Noting that he'd are a studied all of his albums and knew his Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan records back and forth, he ventured to Chicago at the age of nineteen to investigate the blues. Being drawn to the way that Pop stated music seemed to ooze out of the players like "tree sap or honey" and digging their very loose and improvisational movement, he realized that he wanted to take everything he had learned both in Michigan and Illinois and apply it to his next act.

Punk enthusiasts know precisely what this led up to with the advent of The Stooges whose songs like “No Fun” and “I Want to Be Your Dog,” and the sheer volume that became “the spirit” of their admittedly simple tracks took the music world by storm.

Unwilling to do the safe thing and imitate the British invasion groups popular at the time, Pop and guitarist Ron Asheton (interviewed at great length) described the way they used the sounds they admired from bands like The Rolling Stones, The Velvet Underground, The Doors, Jimi Hendrix and others to apply it to lyrics that would fit their Midwestern surroundings.

For example, when Iggy sang “No Fun,” it was a response to what he felt life was like in his immediate surroundings and as Asheton acknowledges, the entire playing style for The Stooges was to offer every guy the opportunity to go “free form”as they would leave the stage with their hands swollen and bloody with roadies allowing the amplifiers to continue to sound that signature electrical hum for a few minutes following their walk off the stage.

Joking that the sound was so loud that it almost physically assaulted the audience so that they couldn't even leave and were stuck by the veracity of the “raw power,” soon their antics became much more infamous following their addiction to hard drugs. Like most sad tales of rock 'n roll and fame-- when drugs entered the equation, instead of the creativity the artists were hoping to draw from tripping, expensive instruments were being sold to support a habit that costs them several hundreds of dollars a day.

Eventually, The Stooges broke up and while there are varying stories as to precisely what led to this decision, unfortunately the DVD’s narration is completely spoken in an entirely different language. While initially it sounded as though it could be Dutch, later it morphs into a dialect that seems decidedly German but I’m unable to offer any accurate criteria on the languages involved since they aren't listed on the DVD or press release.

Luckily, the narrative sequences are brief and the disc is easy to follow given the emphasis on English-language interviews with Pop and Asheton as well as vintage footage of his now extremely famous speech on the Canadian talk show wherein he addresses what punk rock means to him. Additionally, it offers some incredible insight into his friendship and later professional partnership with David Bowie whom Iggy Pop admirably describes as the hardest working person he'd ever seen in his life as Bowie spent a virtually sleepless existence performing, studying, and appreciating music.

When you couple this with great footage of Pop performances (including a vintage tape featuring The Sex Pistols’ still infectious “Anarchy in the U.K.”), the disc is well worth exploring even if you cannot understand the brief foreign narration. Although it was released in February of this year, ironically just a month after Asheton died, it furthermore helps renew interest into the ultra-talented Pop himself who is set to become the subject of an upcoming and approved biopic called The Passenger (after another one of his hits), which is in development and set to star Elijah Wood. Another great and rare release, this all-region (or “region free” or “Region 0”) compatible DVD also features a color insert with a short biography of Pop’s professional career.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Site News: Help Film Intuition By Searching the Web

Raise Money for Film Intuition
Every Time You Search or Shop Online!

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Dear Readers,

Recently, Film Intuition became an official business formed with the ultimate goal of hosting more educational free film events and screenings here in Arizona (with a particular emphasis on nursing homes and schools) down the road once I can swing the rental and movie licensing fees. And, in addition to local involvement, I also aspire to offer more contests and giveaways to the readers.

So far, everything as far as the site is concerned has been completely out of pocket but with 20,000 unique visitors arriving to the site every month from around the globe reading it in more than three dozen languages-- the tiny blog that began humbly in 2006 has become a fully fledged website with sub-domains, pages, studio and PR affiliation and over 1,000 film reviews, dozens of music reviews, and more TV and arts related content.

Thank you so much for your support and I can't tell you how much that means to me. In trying to raise funds to not only keep the site going but help contribute more to the community via educational and outreach film efforts as well as contests for the global readership, a few months back I partnered with iGive.

Primarily a cause-related site that raises $ in conjunction with offering amazing coupons and deals at their more than 700 stores online (virtually ever major store you regularly shop at), the site also offers an iSearchiGive.com option that lets new subscribers to my cause "Film Intuition" raise pennies every time you make a valid search (e.g. not "MySpace" or "YouTube") using their Yahoo equipped toolbar that's free to download.

As your readership is what keeps me striving for excellence, I'd be honored if you would take the time to think it over and consider joining iGive on behalf of Film Intuition and please feel free to share this with any of your friends.

Thanks Again,

More Information:

Double Donation Days for a Limited Time.

Raise 2¢ for Film Intuition (normally 1¢), every time you search the web! iSearchiGive.com is a search engine powered by iGive.com-- the internet's first online shopping mall where a portion of each purchase is donated to your favorite cause.

Over 700 of the web’s best stores participate in this free program, and up to 26% of each purchase benefits our cause.

Totally Free | No Hidden Fees |
No Limits | Monthly Donation Checks

And if you shop online, you can help even more:

Saturday, March 14, 2009

TV News: The Essentials on TCM

TCM's The Essentials:
Defining What it Means to Be a Classic

Hosted by Alec Baldwin & Robert Osborne

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Turner Classic Movies' The Essentials Airs Every Saturday Night at 8pm on TCM.

To Check Out Video Clips, Photo Galleries and More Click Here for the Official Site and Here for the Channel's Schedule.

The Most Updated Listings:

March 7: A Night at the Opera

March 14: Rocky

March 21: Cat Ballou

March 28: Ben-Hur

April 4: Take the Money and Run

April 11: Saboteur

April 18: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

April 25: Funny Girl

TCM Releases:
Rare, Classic, & Extraordinary Entertainment

DVD & Blu-ray Release Announcement: Warner Brothers Presents Green Lantern on 7/28/09

Announcing The Fifth Feature Length Original PG-13 Animated Film from Warner Brothers and DC Comics: Following Such Smash Successes as Wonder Woman, Batman: Gotham Knight, and Superman Doomsday.

Green Lantern: First Flight
Hits Shelves on July 28, 2009.

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All the Details From Warner Brothers:

"The fabric of intergalactic justice is threatened – until Hal Jordan arrives for his initial mission – in the animated Green Lantern: First Flight, the fifth entry in the popular DVD series of DC Universe Animated Original PG-13 Movies. A co-production of Warner Premiere, DC Comics and Warner Bros. Animation, the illuminated hero’s first-ever full-length animated film is set for release by Warner Home Video on July 28, 2009. Green Lantern: First Flight will be available as a special edition 2-disc version on DVD and Blu-Ray™ Hi-Def .

"Acclaimed actor Christopher Meloni (Law & Order: Special Victims Unit) fills the lead voice of Hal Jordan aka Green Lantern. Meloni is joined by fellow Emmy Award nominee Victor Garber (Milk, Titanic) as the villainous Sinestro, Tricia Helfer (Battlestar Galactica) as the voice of Boodikka, and Michael Madsen (Reservoir Dogs) as Kilowog.

"Produced by animation legend Bruce Timm, Green Lantern: First Flight is helmed by heralded director Lauren Montgomery (Wonder Woman, Superman Doomsday) and scripted by four-time Emmy Award-winning writer Alan Burnett (The Batman).

"Green Lantern: First Flight finds Hal Jordan recruited to join the Green Lantern Corps and placed under the supervision of respected senior Lantern Sinestro. The earthling soon discovers his mentor is actually the central figure in a secret conspiracy that threatens the philosophies, traditions and hierarchy of the entire Green Lantern Corps. Hal must quickly hone his newfound powers and combat the treasonous Lanterns within the ranks to maintain order in the universe.

"Green Lantern: First Flight - 2 Disc Special Edition versions will include incredible bonus features such as:

• Over three hours of extra content
• Two Featurettes
• Digital Copy Download
• Widescreen (1.78:1)
• Two Episodes of Justice League hand-picked by animation legend Brice Timm

"Green Lantern: First Flight Blu-Ray versions will include all the great extras as the 2-disc Special Edition as well as an additional two episodes of Justice League picked by Bruce Timm.

“'Warner Premiere along with our partners at DC and Warner Home Video has enjoyed great success with the DC Universe titles, and we’re proud to present this first feature-length animated Green Lantern film,'” said Diane Nelson, President, Warner Premiere. “First Flight is a compelling story and a great vehicle to tell this iconic character’s story to both new and longtime fans.”

“In all of his incarnations, Green Lantern has stood as a fan favorite, and Warner Home Video is excited to provide fans with the character’s first full-length animated adventure,” said Amit Desai, WHV Vice President of Family, Animation & Sports Marketing. “Green Lantern was the perfect hero to follow movies featuring Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and the entire Justice League.”

"'Warner Bros. Animation is known for creating outstanding animated properties and has a legacy built upon some of the greatest characters ever imagined,'” said Warner Bros. Television President Peter Roth, who also oversees television animation for the Studio. “Producer Bruce Timm and his creative team continue that rich tradition with this terrific DVD feature.”

“'As one of the true core DC Super Heroes, Green Lantern has captured the imagination of pop culture enthusiasts with his illuminatingly human approach to justice throughout the universe,'” said Gregory Noveck, Senior VP ¬ Creative Affairs, DC Comics. “Alan Burnett’s script captures the essence of DC’s canon of Green Lantern tales, and provides a fine launching point for future stories with this character.”

"Apart from this animated release, Warner Bros. Pictures is currently in pre-production on a new “Green Lantern” theatrical motion picture, to be directed by Martin Campbell, bringing the popular DC Comics super hero to the big screen for the first time."