Jan 162015
 

We have a sick boy at home, so that means movie time—and he’s young enough (7) to watch just about anything that shows up on TCM without much complaint. Earlier this week, a movie called Hootenanny Hoot was on—and who pops up but a young Johnny Cash, looking pretty doggone cool.

The movie, which is sort of a cash-in on the early ’60s folk movement, isn’t very good, but does include a couple of great performances by Judy Henske. She kind of steals the show for me because they only have the one Cash song. I’d never heard of her, but she seems like a precursor of Janis and Grace Slick. I guess her most famous song is an early version of “High Flyin’ Bird,” which predates the Jefferson Airplane cover by 3 years or so.

I also like movies that pop in surprises—like Marshall Crenshaw playing Buddy Holly in La Bamba  or Aimee Mann in The Big Lebowski.

What are some of your favorite artist cameos: musical performance or acting?

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Jan 062015
 

My holiday break was fantastic! If yours was even half as good, I’m sure you feel the same. I hope so, but really: my break was even better. Up front we knocked out our holiday stuff, spent quality time with family, then had a couple of days of doing almost nothing before closing out the holiday break with quality time with friends. I got a lot done during the days of doing almost nothing, including tearing through a cool new Beatles/Beach Boys book, entitled Manson. There was a brief interruption of my holiday break, when I had to return to work on Friday, January 2, but before I knew it the weekend was here. I spent the final fews hours of my holiday break catching up on a bunch of rock docs I’d saved in my Netflix queue for months:

  • Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me
  • Ain’t in it for My Health: A Film About Levon Helm
  • Twenty Feet From Stardom

My impressions follow. I’m curious to know what recent rock docs you’ve watched that you’d recommend (or not).

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Nov 042014
 

A few years ago the dearly missed Happiness Stan wrote up a piece on an English cult artist I’d never heard about before, Frank Sidebottom. Despite Stan’s typically charming and personal presentation, this artist was hard to swallow. However, I had to give Sidebottom props, at first site, for being annoyingly funny. After that post faded from The Main Stage and after Happiness Stan faded from these Hallowed Halls I never gave Frank Sidebottom another thought…until this past summer, when my wife and I were desperate to see a new movie and came across the description of something called Frank.

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Jun 062014
 
Seeking direction.

Seeking direction.

Last month TCM (ie, “The Old Movie Channel”) featured a series of films from Australia’s early ’70s New Wave. This gave me a chance to get sucked into Peter Weir‘s hypnotic Picnic at Hanging Rock for the umpteenth time as well as a chance to finally see his commercial breakthrough, The Year of Living Dangerously, which got off to a strong start before petering out in Important Old-Time Movie Cliches and not quite living up to its grand aspirations. (This may have been only the second time I ever saw Mel Gibson in a movie from start to finish. Weird.)

Anyhow, during the introduction to one of these Weir films the series’ host, Jackie Weaver, the Australian actress who played the Philadelphia mom of Bradley Cooper’s Silver Linings Playbook character as Edith Bunker (a topic for another day: when will a Hollywood film get an actor to play a Philadelphia character with an actual Philadelphia accent) mentioned Weir’s 1971 short film, Three Directions in Australian Pop Music. Having dug the Aussie rock from that era that I stumbled across a few years ago (and I’m still looking for a killer comp of that stuff, if anyone has a recommendation), I had to track this short film down. Thankfully, someone had posted it on YouTube. The following directions in Australian pop music were, for the most part, left uncharted. Thankfully. See what you think…after the jump! Continue reading »

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Dec 312013
 
It's only rock 'n roll!

It’s only rock ‘n roll!

Martin Scorsese is on my shit list this holiday season. Big time. I used to run out to see Scorsese movies as soon as they were released. The Last Waltz is a major reason I’m still so obsessed with rock ‘n roll. At 17, I sat in the second row of a packed theater for Raging Bull. The two of us knew exactly what that movie was getting at. I simply mention that movie to her to this day and our bond is confirmed. He didn’t miss a beat with left turns, like The King of Comedy and After Hours. Even The Color of Money paid off.

I walked through picket lines to see The Last Temptation of Christ. I saw Goodfellas the day that came out, in the company of E. Pluribus Gergely and our soon-to-be brides. What a movie! Then came Casino. As soon as I saw the trailers for that movie I thought, “This looks like a rehash of Goodfellas. I just saw Goodfellas, and I don’t need to see a Scorsese movie with Sharon Stone!” Scorsese entered his midlife crisis years, in which the greatest director with minimal need for women in his films suddenly started chasing all the blond cheerleader types who wouldn’t give him the time of day when he was in high school: Jessica Lange in Cape Fear, that preposterous version of an already mediocre B-movie; Michelle Pfeiffer in that film of  Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence; and Cameron Diaz in that 19th century Irish mobster near-musical, the most blatant cheerleader grope of Scorsese’s career.

Leonardo DiCaprio has replaced Robert DeNiro as the director’s go-to guy. I’ve got no beef with DiCaprio. He can be really good. He was great in Catch Me If You Can. He was really good as Howard Hughes, in that mostly unnecessary Scorsese movie. He’s great at playing an engaging creep, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen him do anything beside that. He doesn’t give off much emotional range, at least not in the Scorsese movies I’ve seen him in. Now Scorsese’s cast him as an asshole investment guy from the ’80s in The Wolf of Wall Street. Three of hours of the ’70s scenes from Goodfellas set in the ’80s, instead. Three hours of hotshots snorting coke off hookers’ asses. Hey, it may be a fantastic movie, but I get no sense that it’s going to deliver the redemption that was at the heart of all the great Scorsese movies. It looks to me like another Casino, another movie in which Marty’s characters toss Benjamins around and the camera pans in quickly, just because he can do it and we can’t! It looks to me like another midlife crisis movie from an 80-year-old master who should make one more film with DeNiro before they both die. I need my Scorsese to calm the fuck down and make a 2-hour meditation on death, with DeNiro playing an old man version of one of his classic Scorsese characters. No blonds. No Irish-Catholic gangters from Boston. No DiCaprio. No offense to blonds, Irish-Catholic gangsters from Boston, and DiCaprio. The movie must check in at less than 2 hours 15 minutes.

A few days ago the Rolling Stones’ “It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll” came on the radio, and I couldn’t change the station fast enough. I have come to loathe that song, even more than I dislike “Angie,” despite the fact that I don’t mind the music of “It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll,” its groove, it’s production. I just seems like the Stones’ version of Casino, like they felt they’d worked long and hard enough and just wanted to trade Sharon Stone an Oscar nod for a roll in the hay.

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Nov 042013
 

Lou’s no longer with us in body, but that doesn’t mean his true artistic intents cannot continue to be illuminated.

The 1983 movie Get Crazy, featuring our hero, was a flop. You know why? Because the director left 83 minutes of Lou-free footage in the final cut! Someone cut the movie down to the 9 minutes featuring Lou. Check it out and tell me this shouldn’t be reissued as the Director’s Cut, If Lou Reed Had Been Allowed to Direct the Movie.

Thanks for cherguevarra for passing along this find!

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Aug 072013
 

See if you can invest 10 minutes into the following clip. At 7 minutes and 42 seconds into the motorpsycho mayhem, some guy is seen sitting cross-legged in a field, playing a song on his acoustic guitar. It got me thinking: Does anyone ever look cool playing an acoustic guitar in a movie?

I’ve got nothing against acoustic guitars, mind you. Well, with one huge exception. However, as I watched this clip my mind leaped to the guy whose acoustic guitar John Belushi’s Bluto smashes without warning in Animal House. The cult leader in one of my favorite movies of recent years, Martha Marcy May Marlene, plays a creepy folk ballad on his acoustic at one point. It’s a brilliant, creepy scene in a movie loaded with them, but does he look cool playing that song on his acoustic? I think not.

Someone must look cool playing an acoustic guitar in a movie—a fictional movie, not a concert film or actual artist documentary. You tell me.

Meanwhile, you know you want more of the guy playing the acoustic guitar in the middle of that motorpsycho mayhem…

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