The New Rock Docs

Back in the fifties, indie studios and film producers realized that dropping a hot rock n' roll act into a wafer-thin, romantic teen narrative was a great means of creating a concept film for the youth market, and in the sixties, studio AIP picked up the baton and featured guest appearances by names such as 'Little' Stevie Wonder in their Annette Funicello-Frankie Avalon Beach franchise, but it took filmmakers like D.A. Pennebaker and the Maysles brothers to show us that rock bands, as feature-length subjects, could drive a film's dramatic line instead of being reduced to peppy filler material in low-concept teen vehicles.

From concert documentaries like Don't Look Back and Gimme Shelter, it became clear - even to the Rolling Stones, who often funded their own productions - that the lifestyle and personalities of a band offered another kind of compelling drama that could be more interesting than the concert itself.

Eighties band Mission of Burma folded after four years on the road, and just footsteps from what critics and fans contend would've been a great, creative wave; the Pixies closed shop after bickering and frustrations drained the fun and pleasure from performing and writing as a group.

In both cases, band members didn't end up as clich├ęs, and when they reunited, the cameras were there to capture a wholly different view of iconic musicians living under, or far away from, the shadows of their intense music careers.

There's something heartwarming about aging rockers who've matured into great musicians, and because of the demands of a family life and secondary careers, treat their musical performances with a level of sobriety and discipline younger bands are likely to eschew. Not a Photograph: The Mission of Burma Story, and loudQUIETloud - a film about the Pixies, are significant documents from MVD Visual that show music icons as accessible personalities experiencing the same challenges and roadblocks of downsized professionals; it's not the careers and music that's up-front, but the private lives, except without the usual sensationalism and sleaze.

Also reviewed this week is the film debut of WWF headliner Kane (Glen Jacobs) in the youth slasher flick See No Evil (2006), released by Maple in Canada, and Lions Gate in the U.S., and featuring a hook, a chain, and very wet gore.

Also of note is DigitMovies' CD of Ennio Morricone's complete score for Addio fratello crudele / Tis a Pity She's a Whore (1971). Based on a play by Shakespeare's contemporary, John Ford, the film (still unavailable on DVD) is much more than a sleazy tale of incest during the Middle Ages (although Charlotte Rampling and her hunky lovers do get very nekkid). Photographed by Vittorio Storaro, and featuring art direction that must have inspired Julie Taymor's stylistic design of Titus, Addio features an extraordinary, beautiful score by Morricone, written during one of the composer's busiest periods.

Stay tuned for more goodies!

Technorati Tags: DVD Reviews, Mission of Burma, The Pixies, Kane, Soundtrack Reviews, Ennio Morricone


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