No Roads In (2017) [Oceanside International Film Festival 2017]

No Roads In is a music documentary but also one about how music can transform lives.

Written by Christopher Leeson and directed by Josh Wong, this documentary follows a band as they record an album in an abandoned home in the Canadian Prairies.  One of them finds this place while driving and brings the rest back to record a more natural, organic album in terms of sound and how it comes to be.  The film follows these men and looks into their lives through interviews and music.  The men shown include Adam Naughler, Jon May, Blake Reid, Aaron Young, and Jason Valleau who all work on the album together and have their lives and hopes discussed by themselves and others.

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Footnotes (Sur quel pied danser) (2016)

A young woman begins working in an old school shoe factory as it is under closure threat from the company trying to save a buck and move the production to a less expensive country.  Through the fight to save the factory and the jobs, she and her co-workers learn a lot about themselves, each other, and life in general.

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Vicious Lips (1986)

It’s really hard to find anyone who does eighties neon pop surrealism like Empire Pictures. If you want to soak in everything about the decade from the bright colors, weird synth music and massive hair, look no further than films like “Terrorvision,” “Bad Channels” and or “Vicious Lips.” Your experience with Albert Pyun’s rare cult film may vary depending on your love for the decade, but sans the nostalgia goggles, it’s only a moderately entertaining experience that it limitless in its oddities. Something of a mixture of “Rock and Rule,” “Jem and the Holograms,” and “Rocky Horror Picture Show,” Albert Pyun throws so much imagery at the audience and there’s never any kind of substance soaked up.

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Sing (2016)

“Sing” is a lot like many of the other movies from Illumination Studios. It’s basically a moving greeting card. It’s cute for a few minutes, and then you’ll eventually find yourself tucking it away and looking for something more stimulating. As per most of the films from Illumination, “Sing” is just a middle of the road film that barely gets by because of the neat animation. “Sing” is cute. And that’s about it. It’s cute. And it packs a humongous soundtrack filled with pop songs both old and new that are meant to basically distract from the fact that it’s a very barebones animated movie with a paper thin narrative, that does little to convey to its audience something more meaningful.

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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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