From Air Kisses To "Kiss Off!"
While you can read all about the movies, the stars and of course, the endless parties at the Sundance Film Festival most everywhere this week I thought I'd share a different set of notes from my trip to Park City, where a lot of terrific music also filled the chillier than usual air.
Despite my best intentions, I never made it to the Sundance Music Café, the "official" venue where one could listen to Michael Penn (okay, good movie connection), The Bird & The Bee, or Julia Sweeney and Jill Sobule (Jill is great, and hey I was wondering what "Pat" was up to weren't you?)
That said, here are some of the highlights of what I heard while sitting in dark rooms at Sundance.
The Great Rock and Roll Swindle, Absolute Beginners and The Secret Policemen's Other Ball are all the work of director Julien Temple whose new film, Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten, is a passionate, comprehensive documentary about the co-conspirator of what is arguably (and that IS the operative term) the most influential rock and roll band of it's time, The Clash. Of course the music is incredible (especially the very rare early footage of The 101'ers) and the pace makes 2 hours go by all too quickly. Trivial tidbit: Strummer's soundtrack of Walker was recorded at San Francisco's now defunct Russian Hill Studios! Rating: Two middle fingers up! (P.S. If I have my way I'll be doing a San Francisco screening of this film soon, I'll let you know when and if it happens via this blog and the radio!)
The key music scene in Jeffrey Blitz's intelligent and hilarious high school comedy, Rocket Science: a teenager enters a neighbor's house to spy on a girl he has a major crush on. Before heading upstairs to the room of a nerdy boy who has the perfect view of her room, he encounters the mom and dad who are comfortably numb as they play the piano and cello as part of their "marriage therapy." The song they sing off key and off beat: the Violent Femmes "Blister In The Sun." Later, when the young love affair (Yes, he does get the girl) is falling apart, the Femmes "Kiss Off" comes blasting on to the soundtrack. Rating: Big hands -- this film is fun!
Since I am under no obligation to be politically correct here, it is my opinion -- and my opinion only -- that the controversial rape scene involving Dakota Fanning in Deborah Kempmeier's Hound Dog is relevant to the story -- and will help get the word out to make sure there are less victims, because they understand that things can happen if you are not careful. (High sensitivity factor here since this writer has a five-year old daughter.) In addition to the superb acting, there is a musical revelation in this film: white singers like Elvis Presley played a pivotal role in introducing the masses to many great black artists and songs (including "Hound Dog") they never would have heard otherwise. Rating: High class, and that's no lie!
Special Mention To: Clubland by Cherie Nolan for her choice of Siouxsie and the Banshee's "Peek A Boo" in a scarily accurate '80s New Wave flashback scene.