Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Ain't In It for My Health - A Film About Levon Helm

Legendary musician and songwriter Levon Helm is the subject of Jacob Hatley's new soul-filled documentary. An original member of The Band, some would say the driving force, and lifelong journeyman of the road Levon's triumphs and tragedies are all laid out for us on the big screen.

Beautiful and hard to watch at the same time this rock doc opens up a new window where the harsh outcomes of stardom and lifestyle choices are revealed without any filters. We learn about Levon's battles with throat cancer, bankruptcy, and tragic deaths of band mates Rick Danko and Richard Manuel. This is a truly intimate look and a great journey right into Helm's everyday world. For most of the film Hatley has you feeling like your just another guest at the party.

As a lifelong fan of The Band I am a strong believer that they continue to be the most underrated group in the history of rock 'n' roll. Few comparisons can be drawn between Scorsese's The Last Waltz, a classic Band concert from the '70s, and Ain't in it...except for the sweet sounds of the country boy from Turkey Scratch, Arkansas reaching down deep to hit the notes we all know and love.

Hatley proves that every story teller's greatest tale might be that of their own. I am looking forward to seeing more from this director and looking forward to Levon finally being celebrated for the amazing artist he truly is. This will be a must have DVD for any Band fan and a great Doc to own for anyone looking to do a character study.

Link: http://levonhelmmovie.com/

Friday, June 25, 2010

Animal Kingdom

It is unfortunate the rest of the country will have to wait two months for the official and limited release of this instant classic. Not since The Proposition has an Australian narrative captured the attention of critics world wide.

Writer and first time director David Michod sat on Animal Kingdom for 10 years before the green light came with full backing and an all star Aussie cast. Michod had to first prove himself with several shorts before the industry gave him his shot. Well, let's just say he won't have to push his next project on anyone.

Animal Kingdom is based on a family of criminals, the Codys, that make the Corleones look like missionaries. We follow their youngest member Josh through an insane maze of murder, robbery, drug addiction, and indictments. Guy Pierce is the honest cop in charge of single handily saving Josh and what seems, at times, like the community as a whole. The film is so gritty and raw you can almost taste the tension in each scene. The photography and music are in perfect harmony with an edit and pace that reminds us why film can still be an art form.

This film shocked Sundance then came to the LA Film Festival and blew us all away. Look for nominations for Ben Mendelsohn, Guy Pearce, and especially Jackie Weaver. It's just that good...