SXSW ended yesterday. Once the music started I fell behind (and went to a few less movies) but here are hilights from the last five days. The movies I liked best were all documentaries…
Charles Bradley: Soul of America – 3 out of 5 – Charles Bradley was living in the projects in Brooklyn, looking after his mother and doing a James Brown cover act when he finally got his big break and released his first album at the age of 62. This documentary covers the time leading up to the release of his album and his first tour. The tour includes a stop at the Bardavon Theater in Poughkeepsie where he lived for several years in the 70s. We saw him at ACLfest last year and he is good (and as the documentary shows, a truly nice guy).
Shut Up & Play the Hits – 3.5 out of 5 – LCD Soundsystem was a great dance-punk band that was led by James Murphy. This is a great concert film of their last performance held last year at Madison Square Garden. The concert footage is great and it’s juxtaposed with an interview of James Murphy and footage of him before and after the last show. My only complaints is they didn’t include any interviews with other members of the band or delve into how the band evolved.
Marley – 4 out of 5 – this is the definitive documentary about the great reggae singer Bob Marley who died at age 36 from cancer. It shows how he grew as an artist starting in the early 60s and gives great insight on Marley’s personal life. This also has great music and concert footage.
Under African Skies – 4 out of 5 – Paul Simon’s Graceland is one of my favorite albums. This documentary follows Paul as he returns to South Africa 25 years after making the album for an anniversary concert with his original collaborators.
The album was made while South Africa was ruled by an apartheid regime and a U.N. cultural boycott was in place. This movie does a great job exploring the political ramifications and backlash that Simon encountered after the album was released for ignoring the boycott. The movie also does a great job examining the collaborative process between Simon and the South African artists as they created the music and Simon’s creative process as he created the album. There is great archival and recent footage of the concerts and the music is great!
America’s Parking Lot – 3 out of 5 – A very entertaining documentary about a group of Dallas Cowboy fans/tailgaters. The film focuses on the passion/obsession of a group of fans who have tailgated together for many years. They show up hours before game time and live and die with the Cowboys.
The film covers the last couple of years playing at the old stadium before moving to their new stadium a few years ago. As the move to the new stadium nears the focus of the movie shifts to the economics of billion dollar stadiums and the impacts to the average fan. At the new stadium fans have to pay tens of thousands of dollars just to have the right to buy the tickets. Not only are many of the tailgaters forced to give up their tickets but the ones remaining no longer park together further breaking up the group. Even though I hate the Cowboys the film makes you feel for these fans.
I plan to have my wife see this movie to show her how lucky she is that I’m such a relatively laid back fan!