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.
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.
Anna Mae Bullock is a woman that has been screaming music from the top of her lungs since she was a child. Music kind of sprung from her like an unstoppable force of nature, one that was almost squashed out by her abusive and often domineering husband. When we first meet her, she’s a young girl in a church who is escorted out for literally singing her own tune with the choir. When Ike Turner first meets her, Anna Mae, soon to be Tina Turner, belts out music that even shocks Ike Turner to his core. “What’s Love Got to Do With It” is the compelling, and often shocking story of Tina Turner and how she rose to fame in spite of the abusive and violent ownership of her husband, musician Ike Turner.
I have to admit that “The Big TNT Show” isn’t nearly as good as “The TAMI Show.” Despite being a big sixties fanatic and lover of the styles and attitudes, “The Big TNT Show” suffers from being a pretty humdrum concert with an unusual line up. If anything the best way to watch and appreciate “The Big TNT Show” is as a sixties oddity that took a lot of what was coming in the decade, and what was popular and kind of mixed them together in one weird show with an enthusiastic audience. If anything there is a ton of good music and some raucous performances.
Rush is amazing, and will always be amazing, and how they built their fan base was less around the media and hype and more around traveling. They were there on busses and vans, going through road after road, and showing up for the fans. No matter how tired, or sick, they always came to show fans what they were made of. This is what kind of made Rush feel less like a band, and more like visiting relatives that we loved to be with time and time again. What makes “Time Stand Still” such a bittersweet documentary, however, is that it chronicles the rise of Rush, and their beyond loyal fan base, but it also packs in the daunting realization that they can’t do this forever.
For someone who understands the punk rock world so well, Alex Cox is very quick to tear the nostalgia shades off of the viewers to depict a meeting of two lovers that was so intense it resulted in an unfortunate murder. “Sid and Nancy” are often romanticized by music lovers even to this day, but Alex Cox who brought us the masterpiece “Repo Man,” looks behind the gloss, picturing two unbearable, but real individuals. Director Cox paints a brilliant picture of two people spiraling in to oblivion, with a remarkable drama that’s less a biopic and more a chronicle of two doomed lovers. Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen are a lot to drink in. From the moment we meet them, they’re loud, they’re parasitic and disgusting, but they form a relationship where they understand each other. In many ways they decided that they need each other to survive.
The long out of print “Rock-a-Doodle” from animation master Don Bluth has finally stormed its way on to HD thanks to Olive Films, and it’s a blast to the past for me. I fondly remember seeing a lot of the ads for “Rock-a-Doodle” as well as coming across TV spots and ads in comic books. Sadly, the actual cinematic experience was a bust, even for an eight year old moi. It was a dull, awful movie then, and it’s a pretty dull and awful movie, now. I doubt even the best of nineties nostalgia geeks can find a gem in this mess of a movie. I spent a good number of years putting “Rock-a-Doodle” in the back burner of my memory, and I realize it was for good reason.
Joe Massot and Peter Clifton’s excellent “The Song Remains the Same” is one of the best and most dynamic looks at Led Zeppelin performing for a massive audience. The directors able to grab a lot of their synergy by filming many of their solos and brilliant iterations of their classic songs with dynamic camera angles and strobing colors of red and stark blue. Though I’m not a fan of “No Quarter,” their rendition of it here is incredible, especially considering the way the performance as a whole is lit, allowing for a unique fever dream kind of visual that feels like Ken Russell dipped his fingers in the direction here and there.