“We dance in the streets because we don’t have anywhere to go now.”
There is much that sticks and stutters and loops in the mind after watching “Dark City Beneath the Beat,” a bright, ebullient and simultaneously seething musical documentary dedicated to the Baltimore club scene, but that’s the line that lingers longest.
An apparent expression of joy, chased by an admission of crushing, unequal reality, it’s said matter-of-factly by a young black choreographer trying to keep art alive in the face of diminished creative space.
The line distils the push-pull impulses of TT The Artist’s unique film, which mixes and remixes fluorescently staged performance and candid sidewalk-level vérité to offer an abstract history of a city’s rich musical subculture, a busy snapshot of the black community in which it flourishes, and a consciousness-raising statement of resistance against political and economic oppressors.
All that in 65 minutes, and the beat never lets up once.
Whether you adore him or abhor him, see him as a prescient genius or a privileged dirtbag, there’s virtually no middle ground when it comes to artist Jordan Wolfson.
“He just struck me as such a great character study,” says James Crump, director of the new documentary “Spit Earth: Who is Jordan Wolfson?” on why he chose the polarizing artist as his latest subject.
The documentary, which made its streaming debut yesterday on Vimeo, doesn’t offer a clear answer, but it does feature some notable names willing to weigh in with their own two cents on the artist.
“He’s a psycho. He’s a monster,” says Stefan Kalmár, director of the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, while recalling a fund-raising video Wolfson once made. “It’s like a short YouTube movie someone posts before he goes on a shooting rampage. It’s scary.”
Think of Johnny Cash and any number of images will spring to mind, not the least of which is his relationship with his wife of 35 years, June Carter Cash. While their love story has been elevated to epic status thanks to a number of media portrayals such as 2005 film “Walk the Line,” Cash’s marriage to his first wife Vivian Liberto has been a blind spot.
“My Darling Vivian,” a thoroughly engrossing, often heartbreaking documentary directed by Nashville filmmaker Matt Riddlehoover and produced by Riddlehoover and Dustin Tittle, aims to change that.
The film looks at the promising beginnings and turbulent end of Liberto’s romance and family life with Cash via intimate, never-before-seen footage, photographs, and a wealth of personal letters the two wrote to each other while Cash served in the military.
Featuring the candid memories of the couple’s four daughters — Rosanne Cash, Kathy Cash Tittle, Cindy Cash, and Tara Cash Schwoebel — the film is their love note to the enigmatic woman whom Rosanne says “faded into negative obscurity” after her 13-year marriage to Cash ended in divorce.
“My Darling Vivian” is streaming for free from April 27 to May 6 on Amazon Prime Video as part of the SXSW 2020 Film Festival Collection.
The prevalence of documentaries about musicians is a curse, because most of these films do a terrible job of showcasing music.
One rare and moving exception is the work of director Robert Mugge, whose film “Sun Ra: A Joyful Noise”—about the musician and bandleader whose multimedia and pan-cultural activities made him one of the prime artists of Afrofuturism.
The film’s revelatory perspectives on Sun Ra’s work arise not only from the filmmaker’s analytical understanding of it, and the discussions that he films with Sun Ra and other members of the band, but also from his approach to filming music itself, in rehearsal and concert.
How many women drummers can most people name? “Tomboy” pointedly doesn’t try to fill that sparse category.
Instead, this enlightening but uneven documentary profiles four female drummers from different generations and from a range of musical styles, from Motown to metal, tracing their challenges in the music industry.
Directed by Lindsay Lindenbaum, the film was scheduled to screen at SXSW in the 24 Beats Per Second program, and is now part of the online festival that SXSW has put into place after live events were cancelled due to coronavirus concerns.
Walt Disney Studios has acquired the worldwide distribution rights to filmmaker Peter Jackson’s previously announced Beatles documentary, “Get Back,” which creates a new film from the hundreds of hours of footage filmed during the recording the group’s final album “Let It Be.”
“The Beatles: Get Back” is scheduled to be released by The Walt Disney Studios in the United States and Canada on Sept. 4, with additional details and dates for the film’s global release to follow.
The film creates a cheerful counter-narrative to Michael Lindsay-Hogg’s 1970 documentary “Let It Be, which has a gloomy atmosphere and laid bare many of the internal disputes and arguments that ultimately broke up the Beatles.
Unlike virtually every other item in the group’s oeuvre, Linday-Hogg’s film has been out of circulation for many years.