Every Act of Life (2018) [FilmOut San Diego 2018]

This documentary tells of the life and work of playwright Terrence McNally, who during his 60 years of career wrote many plays including Ragtime and Master Class. The film also tell of the LGBT rights movement, his life through addiction, recovery, love, and a desire to be more, to work more, to be his best possible at all those things.

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Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: In Concert (2014-2017) [2 Blu-Ray]

The yearly “Rock and Roll Hall of Fame” induction ceremony is one of the more iconic and polarizing concerts, often inspiring a slew of controversy from music buffs and musicians alike. There’s always a hailstorm of “Why not this band?” or “Why not this artist?” and you’re always guaranteed to read an interesting headline of someone griping about an overdue band not getting their dues yet. Suffice to say whether the ceremony falls flat or it’s raucous, it’s almost always a promise you’ll get an interesting experience. And that’s from what we get to see on the edited annual broadcast on cable television. There are some bands and or artists excluded from this list as they have been omitted consciously, from what I’ve read, but for your money it’s a pretty solid release from Time Life I recommend.

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Steven Tyler: Out on a Limb (2018)

Steven Tyler, lead singer of Aerosmith, judge on American Idol, multi-soundtrack participant, actor, and generally interesting human being is followed here by filmmaker Casey Tebo who had previously spent a decade with Aerosmith, recording their travels and work. Here the camera and focus is on Tyler and his new work as a country singer. His new band that he handpicked talked about how they were selected and offered the jobs they have now, famous fans from Slash to horror director Adam Green discuss the impact of Tyler, Aerosmith, and their music on them, on the music industry as a whole, and why it makes sense for Tyler to now be turning to country music. The film shows that this genre move is more than just a stunt or an ego trip, it’s a genuine project from the heart, for the love of music, and for the love of performing. The film is a good look into Steven Tyler and who is.

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Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping (2016)

For the most part, “Popstar” is a funny and often raucous satire of the pop star life and modern music business. A mix of “This is Spinal Tap” and “Zoolander,” Andy Samberg creates an engaging enough character to where we want to see where he ends up in the finale. The problem with the film is it completely loses steam in the final half hour, leading up to the big performance. The writers spend a good portion of time anxiously trying to keep the momentum from the first hour.

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Rockin’ with the Chipmunks (1994)

I vividly remember watching “Rockin’ with the Chipmunks”back in the very early nineties where I recall loving the scenes of Alvin dancing along with Michael Jackson to “Beat It” and “Smooth Criminal.” Mostly a cash grab for the fans, “Rockin with the Chipmunks” is a brief history of the novelty group, spliced in with comedy skits and the members singing vintage rock and roll in their modern animation. The animation for the most part is dicey and fuzzy at best, allowing for a hazy series of music videos, but back then if you were a Chipmunks fanatic, you didn’t care.

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Go, Johnny, Go! (1959) (DVD)

The only reason to watch “Go, Johnny, Go!” is if you want to see some of the best rock and roll artists of all time do their thing on the big screen. Other than that, “Go, Johnny, Go!” is the story of the boring, milquetoast Johnny Melody, a bright eyed, blond white boy who rose from the slums as an orphan to become a rock and roll singer. It’s surprising that a movie featuring Ritchie Valens, and Chuck Berry would only focus on the most uninteresting individual, as when the movie stops to spread its paper thin premise with performances, it ironically becomes worth sitting through.

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Revolution (1968)

There isn’t much of a love or respect for the hippy culture in “Revolution” which is consistently referred to as the beatnik culture with a lot of derision on the tone of various interviewers. While the idea of free love and peace from war still continues on in this documentary, “Revolution” focuses on the folks that are merely just kind of parasitic and miss the point as a whole. One of the big images that sum up the entire message of the film is the title “Revolution” sprawled across the screen while angelic and thick headed hippy Today Malone lies in a field fast asleep and high on whatever she’d taken the night before. “Revolution” is kind of a mixed message of a film, based around psychedelic imagery and large interludes of great hippy rock music.

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