Archive for the Movie Reviews Category

Movie Review: Cameron Crowe, Pearl Jam Twenty

Posted in Movie Reviews, Reviews with tags , , , , on Saturday, July 7, 2012 by Tim Althaus

I have to admit, I slept on Pearl Jam for a long time; in fact, I just woke up from my twenty year slumber. Some people tend to say that it’s better late than never, and in the case of Pearl Jam’s music, I definitely agree. My buddy Steve is one of the biggest Pearl Jam enthusiasts I know, and after hearing about his experience at the Alpine Valley leg of the PJ20 tour, I had to find out what he was so passionate about. The first time I listened to Ten from front to back, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing; I felt like Ten was the equivalent of Tommy, just twenty-two years later. I just watched PJ20 for the first time on the fourth of July; I was absolutely blown away by Cameron Crowe‘s attention to detail and his desire to tell Pearl Jam’s fascinating story through incredible concert footage and exclusive interviews.

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Documentary Review: Miroir Noir

Posted in Movie Reviews, Music Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , on Monday, April 20, 2009 by Erik Burg

miroirnoirDay after day I checked my mailbox after class, and day after day I was disappointed. But alas, this past week finally brought great joy to my world, as my Miroir Noir special edition DVD finally arrived in the mail. It’s been a few months since the first announcements for this documentary, which features Arcade Fire and everything surrounding the release of Neon Bible in 2007, surfaced and I couldn’t try and count how many times I had watched the trailer. And when Pitchfork streamed it for a week I managed to only watch about 5 minutes, as to not ruin the arrival of my leather bound accordion styled DVD case.

So hype abound and anticipation boiling over, I watched Miroir Noir from start to finish and immediately followed it with the special features disc. I couldn’t get enough Neon Bible. Which is interesting to note because that album really put me off for about a year before I finally started enjoying it. 

The way the Documentary is shot is amazing, first off. I’ve seen various live DVDs and documentaries by now, and I enjoy most of them merely for the fact that they offer a different view about said band without really doing anything too crazy or original. But the fascination I now have with Miroir Noir stems from the fact that it mixes behind the scenes bits with well shot and breathtaking live tracks. Most interestingly though, it integrates one of the best fan involved projects ever: the Neon Bible telephone hotline. Playing various clips from fans (and one guy they apparently lost and who would have been “the greatest fan ever”) overtop of some abstractly shot yet perfectly placed scenes makes the documentary sometimes feel more like a movie than a straight live compilation.

There’s one scene in particular, where Regine is just running down the beach as the camera follows. It’s incredibly shaky and half-hard to make out who it is at first, but then to see the members of Arcade Fire like Regine with their guard down and their smiles wide is an engrossing feeling (almost like when the percussion parts collide in “My Body is a Cage”). Another thing that astonished me was the way Win Butler was portrayed through all of it. I sort of always took him for a complete asshole, a man who seemed closed off and very bitter yet powerful. But in Miroir Noir there’s a scene of him and another band member just dancing around while he lip syncs and smiles; it’s revealing, and it’s something that a lot of other documentaries never really touch on: the human side of things. 

Seeing the glee in Regine’s eyes and voice when she finally gets to record “No Cars Go” with a full orchestra is beautiful. The examplesnoir-case go on and on, and sometimes out-do the brilliant filming done during the live shows. Close up, perfect audio, and great crowd clips all coupled with a few times when the camera work is so great you forget about the music itself make the DVD a worthy purchase for any and all Arcade Fire fans. 

I own the special edition, which features some great clips if you can afford the $25 price point instead of $15. A couple of SNL clips, including the hard to find parts when their sound gets cut out and they perform in the crowd. An extensive and awesome BBC session (worth the ten dollars alone) and then some other late night takes as well. Coupled with the better packaging and you’re looking at a great collector’s item if you’re a big fan of their work. 

As far as documentaries go… 9.5/10

Directed by: Vincent Morisset

Shot by: Vincent Moon

Movie Review: Gran Torino (Hide the Kids)

Posted in Movie Reviews with tags on Sunday, January 25, 2009 by Eddie

Seriously, get off his lawn.

Seriously, get off his lawn.

Clint Eastwood is and may forever be the epitome of manliness. I mean, can you honestly think of a more complete badass? Eastwood has been incinerating skulls for over half a century, and he does a damn fine job of looking fly while doing it. As he’s aged, he’s not only gained more grit, but also more of a self awareness of what constitutes solid film making. Enter Gran Torino a film centered around a man who’ll remind you of that old guy who’s house you used to knock at 2 am on a weekend before you had a car or a girlfriend. In fact, that just so happens to be what this film is all about: Growing up and learning that there’s more to life than rollin’ with your homies and the nonsensical drug habits. Oh, they also touch on racism… Eastwood’s performance is legendary, and the films climax will have you questioning the legitimacy of some of this year’s academy award nominees. Check it.

(3 1/2 of 4)

Global Metal is amazing (and it will be in stores soon)

Posted in Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on Tuesday, October 21, 2008 by Ryan Buege

After the release of his 2005 documentary Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey, anthropologist (and lifelong metalhead) Sam Dunn became a renowned figure in the international metal community. The film was a poignant and passionate portrayal of the history behind this infamously beloved genre and the working class roots that it embodies. While A Headbanger’s Journey served perfectly as both outsider’s introduction into the depths of the world of metal and an affirmation to fellow metalheads to keep headbanging, Dunn realized that there was a much bigger story to tell.

Soon after the release of A Headbanger’s Journey, Dunn and his coconspirator Scott McFayden set about filming a followup to their ultimate metal documentary. The next chapter is entitled Global Metal, and it is just as brilliant as the first.

In Global Metal, Dunn and McFayden circle the planet to tell the story of how metal has been adopted by like-minded kids in some of the unlikeliest of places. Through this documentary, we are able to see how the culture, dedication and stigma that comes with extreme music is a part of life for people all around the world – from America and Germany to  Brazil, India, China, Japan, and Iran. The most interesting aspect of the film is its documentation of the way is which metal as been molded to become a voice of the people in these third world countries. As Dunn explains, these new fans of metal aren’t just listening to metal, they’re making it something entirely their own. The cultural aspects between the places that are visited in the film are so strikingly different that one can’t help but wonder in what ways the genre can be reinvigorated by being integrated with these cultures in the future. It is a form of expression that has been subverted in many non-Western cultures, but when it is allowed to become a part of their culture it becomes a likely vehicle for social change.

But while Sepultura established Brazil as a remote mecca for metal nearly two full decades ago (and even distinguished metal as music for Brazilians to be proud of), this explicitly western form of music has only recently began to gain popularity in some of the more remote parts of the world. Although the film makes it clear that small pockets troo-metalheads exist in nearly every country, metal is a musical concept that is entirely foreign to most people in these far off destinations – and in many cases they are persecuted for listening to it. Metal has been incorrectly demonized in many of these third-world countries, and without tolerance of their form of expression it is very hard for third-world metal bands to even play their instruments. In the future, it’ll be very interesting to see if metal fans in Jerusalem, Tehran, Beijing, and Mumbai will be allowed the same freedom to bang their heads so that they can make an impact at an international level, as well. As Dunn points out, the feeling that metal provides to its listeners is universal – we all deserve the right to headbang at our own will – we are one global community.

Global Metal premiered in theatres this spring, and on November 4th it will be available for purchase on DVD. It features interviews with members of Metallica, Iron Maiden, Slayer, Sepultura, Sigh, Tang Dynasty and metalheads from every corner of the world. Check out the trailer for the film below: