No Place to Fall (2017) [Dances with Films 2017]

Normally, this reviewer covers films, short and feature lengths, but this time and exception was made and a pilot for a hopeful TV series is being reviewed.  Why the exception to this old curmudgeon’s habits?  The short film “Survivor Type” by the same director was absolutely fantastic so viewing and reviewing more of his work had to happen.

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Buena Vista Social Club (1999): The Criterion Collection [Blu-Ray]

Wim Wenders’ ode to the music of Cuba and the Buena Vista Social Club is a brilliant and poetic documentary that depicts the art of music as something that’s soothing to the soul and can ease even the most tumultuous situations. Wenders’ documentary is very much about music with a lot of performances, but it’s also a thoughtful and deliberately paced meditation on the meaning of music. It defines something within the subjects we meet in “Buena Vista Social Club.” And even in spite of the economic turmoil, it’s kept people within the society of Cuba going forward and doing their best to show their love for the art form.

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8 Mile: Dealing with Pain through Music

It’s hard to believe that “8 Mile” arrived in theaters fifteen years ago and took the world by surprise. That’s essentially what Eminem’s career has always been about: Surprising people who have always doubted him. After the stigma of white hip hop artists permeated music for years, Eminem stomped on to the world of hip hop. He didn’t just make a name for himself, but he challenged everything about the world he was in, the music he performed, and the people he ran across every single day of his life. Here was a man who kind of tore through the façade of fame, and also challenged the conventions of hip hop, which by the late nineties, was more about fame and wealth than hardships and confronting a harsh society.

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NSFA: The Simpsons Sing the Blues!

Debuting to the world in April 19th, 1987, thirty years later, The Simpsons has never been afraid to take a look back at their history and mock the absurdity of it all. While the show has been quite excellent in its formative years, back in 1990, the show reached the height of its popularity to where it had oodles of merchandise. There were dolls, shirts, comic books, books, video games, et al. and the show took the opportunity to mock that period back in the “Behind the Laughter” episode. In it the narrator looks at how obscene the merchandising for the show was to the point where the characters went so far as to release birth control and, yes, two cheesy hit novelty albums.

Hilariously enough in 1990, The Simpsons did release a “legitimate” music album named “The Simpsons Sing the Blues!”

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Say What! A Geriatric Proposal (2016)

Being an artist is tough work. Not only do you have to work very hard to hone your craft, and perfect it, but you also have to fight to be taken seriously. Jeremy Weinstein’s chronicle of his brother’s life as a Jazz Musician is a funny and charming slice of life and how a talented Jazz Musician finds himself on the end of man condescending remarks.

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Blackhearts (2017)

As Norway prepares for one of its epic black metal festivals, 3 bands prepare to go and play their set there for the first time.  The film follows closely Hector from Columbia (leader of the band Luciferian), Sina from the Middle East where playing black metal is a jailable offense, and Kaiadas and his band mates (band Naer Mataron) through their preparation for the festival and what pushes them to play this type of music.  The film also explores the history of black metal in Norway, including a visit to the Rockheim museum in Trondheim, interviews and moments with members of bands such as Keep of Kalessin, Mayhem, and a few others.  Through seeing the lives of these musicians, what they believe in, and what they want to accomplish, the viewer can get a good idea of what black metal is all about and also learn about its history.

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Country: Portraits of an American Sound (2015)

This documentary made in 2015 and released in early 2017 explores how the image of country singer is developed through photography and has been since the very start of the music genre.  Through interviews with photographers, artists, singers, and musicians, the history of country music is explored and the emphasis on how image can help make or break an artist’s popularity are explained as well as the process behind some memorable photographs done by various photographers, some specializing in country portraits and other specialized in portraits.

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