In an interview with the dudes over at Collider, Bret McKenzie, of Flight of the Conchords and The Muppets fame, revealed that he is in the process of writing a script for a "fairy tale comedy musical" with "singing dragons a...
Say what you will about Jay Z's new album, Bible Quran Torah Dreidel Magna Carta Holy Grail (I know I've said plenty), but his newest music video (referred to as a "performance art film") is built on a pretty neat idea. The ...
During junior high and high school, I was a big fan of Matthew Sweet, whose music I still dig today. When I hear songs from Girlfriend, Altered Beast, and 100% Fun, they bring me back to that age and those awkward adolescent feelings. Like a lot of power pop, the music is bright despite the pain in the lyrics; it's as if the adult musician is patting his teenage self on the back, letting him know that things will be okay even if it's a right bummer now.
Matthew Sweet was my gateway into two influential '70s bands that I'd love when I got to college. First there was Television, the quintessential NYC protopunk band. (Television guitarist Richard Lloyd played lead on many Matthew Sweet songs.) Second was Big Star, the cult Memphis band who helped shape power pop.
Sweet appears briefly in the documentary Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me. He praises the beauty of Big Star's music along with Mike Mills of R.E.M., Ira Kaplan of Yo La Tengo, and Alexis Taylor of Hot Chip. Nothing Can Hurt Me is a great tribute to the band, and it sort of answers the question that fans of Big Star usually ask: Why weren't these guys huge?
It's weird what manages to slip through the cracks. In last year's Academy Award-winning documentary Searching for Sugar Man, the music of Sixto Rodriguez was ignored in its time, but he'd somehow garnered a major following in South Africa. Herman Melville's Moby-Dick was a critical and commercial flop that ruined his writing career, but he experienced a resurgence thanks to literary critics in the 1920s. Vincent Van Gogh's acclaim was wholly posthumous, and Buster Keaton might have been forgotten (The General was a critical and box office bomb) if it weren't for his own stone-faced persistence.
What links these stories of ignored or misunderstood artists is a sense that the world wasn't ready for them. Maybe they were ahead of their time, or maybe the rest of the culture hadn't caught up to the present.
The Detroit protopunk band Death fits the mold. Three black brothers (Bobby, Dannis, and David Hackney) made music in their attic that would have been influential if they could just get signed, but they were unable to find a foothold in the early 1970s. Death didn't even start to receive recognition until 2009.
A Band Called Death is their story, and it f**king rocks.
After speaking with A Band Called Death directors Jeff Howlett and Mark Covino, I had the opportunity to speak to the band Death itself. Bobby Hackney (bass, vocal), Bobbie Duncan (guitar), and Dannis Hackney (drums) were all really cool guys, and I'm not just saying that because they dug my baseball cap. They were lively and positive, which was especially notable since they'd played a show the previous night just nine hours before our interview that morning.
Death formed in 1971 in Detroit, a power trio comprised of Bobby, Dannis, and their late brother David. Unsigned and going nowhere despite their great sound, the band broke up in 1977. They were rediscovered in 2008 or 2009, and have since been garnering the recognition they missed out on all those years ago. A Band Called Death is a chronicle of their rediscovery and rebirth, and also a look at the musical lineage of the Hackney family. Three of Bobby's sons (Bobby Jr., Julian, and Urian) are in the band Rough Francis, which played an important part in the band's revival.
The members of Death talked about the fimmaking process, getting back in the groove of playing their material, writing new songs, and what the family dynamic is like given all the music in their blood.
[This interview was originally posted as part of our coverage of SXSW 2013. It has been reposted to coincide with the theatrical and VOD release of this film. Look for our review of A Band Called Death tomorrow.]
It was really only a matter of time before there was a One Direction documentary. After being formed in and finishing in 3rd place in the seventh series of Britain's The X-Factor television show, the young boy-band has catap...
Pussy Riot was back in the news following the 11-day hunger strike of Maria Alyokhina. Alyokhina started the hunger strike on May 22 to protest the conditions of her imprisonment, which she claimed turned other inmates against her. The Russian government buckled and relaxed some of the security checks that were in place. Score one for Pussy Riot.
Alyokhina's defiance, like Pussy Riot's performance protests, are the best expression of the Bertolt Brecht quotation that opens the documentary Pussy Riot - A Punk Prayer: "Art is not a mirror to hold up to society, but a hammer with which to shape it." This is also an expression of punk as subversion and negation, an idea explored in Greil Marcus's Lipstick Traces.
Art in the face of government oppression is always ballsy since the state is always more powerful than the artist. Beyond the transgressive name, it's the symbolism that makes Pussy Riot compelling, almost superheroic -- women in bright clothes and balaclavas against the wrath of Vladimir Putin.
If only this documentary was half as punk rock as them.
[For the next two weeks we will be covering the 2013 Human Rights Watch Film Festival in New York, which runs from June 13th to June 23rd. The films at the festival are dedicated to bringing awareness to human rights issues around the world and laying the groundwork for justice and change. For more information and a full schedule, visit ff.hrw.org.]
The History of Future Folk is about the origins of the universe's only alien bluegrass folk duo, and how they discovered and fell in love with Earth's music. It's charming, adventurous, and a ton of fun. I mean when's the last time you saw an Alien Folk Duo Sci-Fi Action Romance Comedy Musical?
As we've seen from the movie's trailer and poster, The History of Future Folk may be one of the most endearing Indie movies we've seen so far this year, but is that enough to make it truly great? Read on to find out!
This Is Spinal is one of the best movies of the 1980s and one my my favorite movies of all time. It's still the grandaddy of the mockumentary genre, and I don't think it'll be topped in terms of execution or sheer quality.
After years of neglect, the Alien Folk Duo Sci-Fi Action Romance Comedy genre is finally getting some attention with John Mitchell and Jeremy Kipp Walker's The History of Future Folk. The movie stars Nils d’Aulaire and...
"Before there was punk, there was a band called Death." Death is a band that's now referred to as protopunk, basically meaning they were punk rock before punk rock existed. Basically meaning that they're super cool and were ...
If you're going into Mistaken for Strangers looking for a rockumentary/tour documentary on The National, you're in for disappointment. The film was directed by Tom Berninger, the younger brother of the band's frontman Matt Berninger. Tom's not very good at making music docs even though he's trying as hard as he can.
Mistaken for Strangers is more about Tom Berninger trying to make the documentary Mistaken for Strangers, and how the process dredges up a lot of unresolved personal issues about sibling jealousy and the fear of failure.
Oddly, this is also the strength of Mistaken for Strangers.
[For the next few weeks, Flixist will be covering the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival, which runs April 17-28 in New York City. Check with us daily for reviews, interviews, features, and news from the festival. For all of our coverage, go here.]
Even though I didn't care for Rob Zombie's The Lords of Salem, I was interested in speaking to him, having dug White Zombie growing up and enjoying The Devil's Rejects. A friend of a friend had met Zombie through his job and said he was a really nice guy, and he was right. Zombie's got an ease to him and struck me as down to earth, comfortable, and free from pretentiousness or irony.
He's also a really busy guy: the book version of The Lords of Salem was released this week, which is closer to the film's original script; he and his wife Sheri are shooting a music video this weekend for his new single, "Dead City Radio and the New Gods of Supertown"; and he's got Broad Street Bullies coming up to direct, his first non-horror film that focuses on the Philadelphia Flyers in the 1970s.
Zombie sat down with me and a few other journalists for a roundtable interview where we talked about the divisive reaction to The Lords of Salem, Hollywood's hatred of horror movies, the nitpicking of horror fandom, that thin line between comic absurdity and horrific absurdity, and hockey.
[This interview was originally posted as part of our South by Southwest 2013 coverage. It has been reposted to coincide with the theatrical release of The Lords of Salem.]
[From March 9th - 17th, Flixist will be providing coverage from South by Southwest 2013 in Austin, TX. Prepare yourselves for reviews, interviews, features, photos, videos, and all types of shenanigans!]
I'd originally planned to catch a lot more music last Friday at SXSW, but plans changed a little bit. Instead I tried to catch up with some writing (I'm still catching up right now) and wound up going to three movies that day, two of which sounded interesting but I hadn't originally intended to see.
Los Wild Ones was one of these two films, a documentary that focuses on the LA-based rockabilly label Wild Records. These kinds of spontaneous screenings happen to me at least once or twice at every festival: I go into a film that was generally off my radar, and I hope I come out of the theater glad that I took a chance.
Even thouh SXSW is almost upon us, a few of us New York-based editors are also gearing up for the Tribeca Film Festival, which runs from April 17th to April 28th. The opening film was just announced: Mistaken for Strangers, a...
David Bowie just put out a music video for "The Stars (Are Out Tonight)," the second single from his forthcoming album The Next Day. Whereas the previous single, "Where Are We Now?", was melancholic and a touch wistful befor...
A new film is going to focus on David Bowie and Iggy Pop's collaboration and friendship in West Berlin circa 1976-1978. Titled Lust for Life, the film will be directed by Gabriel Range (Death of a President). The screenplay i...
The most recent trailer for Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby featured Filter's abysmal cover of "Happy Together." I hope that song doesn't wind up in the final film. But even if it does, at least the score will be interesting....
A documentary about Lady Gaga is now in the works, which will chronicle her life as well as the creation of her forthcoming album, Artpop. (Oh, I get it... how drôle.) The film will be made by Terry Richardson, who you ...
I've been a big fan of Aimee Mann since the late '90s after a chance encounter with the song "I Should've Known." With the year winding down, I figured it's a good time to highlight two music videos from her new album Charme...
It's that time of year when I catch up with music that slipped passed me in the last 11 months. I recently ran into the song "Breezeblocks" by Alt-J (∆). It's not bad, and it's been growing on me. I actually find mysel...
Beware of Mr. Baker is like the anti-Searching for Sugar Man. The latter chronicled Sixto Rodriguez, an obscure Detroit folk singer who inexplicably developed a following in South Africa. Beware of Mr. Baker follows Ginger Baker, the storied rock and jazz drummer, who retreated into obscurity to a compound in South Africa. If Sixto Rodriguez is someone you admire and want to hang out with, Ginger Baker is holy terror. He's the sort of person who keeps you constantly on edge and leaves a trail of destruction in his wake -- ruined marriages, damaged drum kits, bruised friendships, broken noses.
But maybe that's the best thing about him.
As director Jay Bulger explained in our interview yesterday, Baker's volatility kept him at the top of his game as a first-time filmmaker. Baker could bring out the best in people even when he was at his worst, and it's just one of the things that makes him such a fascinating person.
He is what is he, and he just happens to be a brutal force of nature.