Category Archives: Film/DVD

INDIE FILM FESTIVAL WRAP-UP: 2nd Annual Film Fest 919, Chapel Hill, NC

Scroll to the bottom to view the 1st Annual Matti Awards, aka our resident “Movie Thoughts” film critic Daniel Matti, “The Matties”

BY DANIEL MATTI

Last weekend (Oct. 9-13) the 2nd annual Film Fest 919 – so named for the local area code – took over Chapel Hill, NC, and was welcomed with many moviegoers, as the seats were filled with area cinephiles to see the new and upcoming films that will shake the Academy Awards and box offices this holiday season. Movies like Parasite, which received the Audience Award for most popular movie during the festival, were screened a couple times to sold out theaters.

Also, there were events, such as the one featuring Lynn Roth, director of Shepherd : Story of a Jewish Dog, who was there during the screening of her fantastic movie and who did a Q&A.

 

Anthony McCarten (below) received the inaugural Distinguished Screenwriter Award.

An encore screening of Rocketman, which screened at the 1st annual Film Fest 919, was greeted with a special appearance of Ray Williams, CEO of Liberty Records, who went on to discover Elton John. Folks were also given a special presentation by four-time Academy Award-winning special effects supervisor and Director of Weta Digital, Joe Letteri. He showed the crowd behind the scenes looks as such films as the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Avatar, and the Planet of the Apes trilogy.

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Top Films by Matti

-Parasite

A lot has been said about this movie. It’s hard to find a review about this movie that has something negative about it. I honestly haven’t seen one yet. That’s not what this review is going to be either. I honestly could go on and on about how stunning Parasite is but I will not bore you with my love for it I will pretty much just say, see it for yourself. If you like movies that will spin you around slap you in the face while someone else is fluffing a pillow to help you relax just to pull it out from underneath you; Parasite is the movie for you. Inexplicably beauty is one thing that Bong Joon Ho is known for, especially for his work in Memories of Murder, The Host, or Snowpiercer and Parasite is no difference other than its Bong Joon Ho at peak director level. No other film in, oh I don’t maybe 5 years has shook me this hard. Congratulations to the 92nd Foreign Film winner, even though the Oscars aren’t until February.

Release Date: In NYC/LA now. Early/Late November everywhere else

-Jojo Rabbit

From the brilliant mind of Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok, What We Do In the Shadows) comes one of the most hilarious movies in quite some time. Jojo Betzler (Roman Davis) wants to be a Nazi soldier more than anything in the world and his imaginary friend is Adolf Hitler (Taika Waititi). Well from that alone it’s a doozy of a story to think about releasing in a hate filled time such as now. Taika calls it an anti-hate film and it is just that. As Jojo finds his mother Rosie Betzler (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a young Jewish Girl (Thomasin McKenzie) in the walls of their home, Jojo tries to understand more than just what he sees in his world and decides to be more passionate. Surpringlsy filled with more belly laughs than most “laugh out loud” comedies that are pumped out normally, this has compassion and heart that most comedies lack.

Release Date: Theatrically released on October 18

– Shepherd: The Story of a Jewish Dog

Based upon the award-winning and bestselling Israeli novel, “The Jewish Dog” by Asher Kravitz the film, directed by extremely talented Lynn Roth, has a dog as one of its main characters. Right from the get-go I knew I was in for a teary filled film that was going to win over every inch of my soul as soon as I sunk into my seat. As Kaleb, a loved German shepherd is separated from his Jewish Family we follow him as he is pushed to becoming a SS Officer’s companion and attack dog to help search out Jews for concentration camps. Through the love and feeling that the dog was once shown, he knows that this is not who he is and wants to be. This is one for the whole family and really anyone who needs a good cry.

Release Date: Theatrically and VOD early 2020

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All Around the World

-The Chambermaid

Mexico’s entry into the 92nd Academy Awards is a sure impressive film from Lila Avilés especially since it’s her first feature film. The Chambermaid tells the story of Eve (Gabriela Cartol), who is a hard working employee at one of Mexico’s luxurious hotel as she embarks on her journey the self-discovery and what is next in her life. She decides to take classes for the GED program through the hotel, which I want to point out that is amazing a job has this kind of program. With glorious colors on the screen the camera guides you through the many floors of the hotel and the problems that arise with the different occupants that fill the rooms.

Release Date: DVD release on Oct. 22 and will run on Starz starting Nov. 1.

-Beanpole

Kantemir Balagov’s movie Beanpole was a tough pill to swallow. The biggest slow burn of the festival but proved itself to be a film that would be an extremely impressive entry into the 92nd Academy Awards on behalf of Russia. The real impressive part was when I found out that Kantemir Balagov is only 23 years old. Beanpole is about Leningrad during World War II and follows two main characters as they try to rebuild their lives as they are surrounded around devastating results the war has left on the city and their personal lives. Iya(Viktoria Miroshnichenko ) is left with Masha’s(Vasilisa Perelygina ) 3 year old son as she goes into world and comes back to discover that her son is accidently killed by Iya during an unfortunate accident that leaves chills down your spine throughout the whole film.

Release Date: TBD on theatrical US release. Now currently streaming on Mubi

-Chicuarotes

Anything with Gael García Bernal attached to it is an absolute must-see for me and this film did not disappoint and was also fortunate enough to find out this was the US debut of the film. Chicuarotes, which has two meanings 1) hot pepper, and 2) stubborn or nasty and is how the people from the area of San Gregorio Atlapulco identify as. Through the eyes of Cagalera (Benny Emmanuel) and his friend Moloteco (Gabriel Carbajal) as they get into all kinds of trouble and eventually have to get out of the worst kind of scenario they could put them in, kidnapping the local butcher’s child. Holding him for a petty ransom just so they could try and escape San Gregorio in hopes of a better life. With dark comedy infused with violent situations involving family and street life the film was overall a view that Gael García Bernal that has been pretty common in his films, see Y Tu Mamá También if you haven’t.

Release Date: TBD

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For the Film Geeks

If you like pretty cinematography and sound design and won’t stop talking about how good it looks or sounds aka some of my favorite films to talk about

-Greener Grass

Imagine walking into Pleasantville and eating too much acid, this was what Greener Grass felt like. From Jocelyn DeBoer and Dawn Luebbe and the brilliant directorial debut comes a story about Jill and Lisa, respectively played by the directors and writers of the film, comes a story that is so bizarre some people not enjoy but for others, they will love. Blending SNL, Tim and Eric, and Upright Citizens Brigade(who Jocelyn and Dawn are alumni of) style comedy it follows the story of a serial killer that terrorizes the town while the most bizarre things you can think of happens. Make sure to bring enough pool water to drink while you watch.

Release Date: In select theaters and VOD on October 18th

-In Fabric

What if a dress could kill you slowly? Would you continue to wear it because it made you feel good? Would you try and return it to the retail store from which you purchased it from? Yeah this went too far but from the mind Peter Strickland far is not far enough. Marianne Jean-Baptiste plays a recently divorcee who is looking to get back into the dating pool and tries to spice things up by purchasing a new dress from the hot discount clothing store, Dentley and Soper. I don’t want to spoil too much of this movie because this movie is a total mindfuck of a movie. Cavern of Anti-Matter blessed with some of the best score music since Good Time and the sound design; well let’s just say Peter Strickland has his finger on the pulse of knowing a good sound designer. See Berberian Sound Studio if you haven’t.

Release Date: Limited Theatrical run on December 6th

-Waves

This was one of my most anticipated films of Film Fest 919 and I wasn’t disappointed, I was just disappointed at the way the movie was marketed in the trailer. After knowing nothing but a trailer, which the trailer doesn’t spoil much, it just made me confused on what the actual film was supposed to be about. Overall the film leaves you feeling extremely nauseous to your stomach through the vile acts that Tyler Williams (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) does throughout the film. I honestly don’t want to spoil too much here either because this is one of those films I feel like it’s absolutely necessary to go in as blindly as possible. Just imagine listening to 23 year olds IPod while a Harmony Korine film plays in the background and you have nailed the overall tone of Waves.

Release Date: Theatrical release on November 15

-Honey Boy

Following the early years of Shia LaBeouf, from the words of Shia LaBeouf comes a film that stings. Full of heart filled scenes from both Noah Jupe and Lucas Hedges who play an older and younger Otis Lort (respectively Shia LaBeouf). Shia wrote the story while he was in a rehabilitation facility and you can really tell that he took the time to write the film about his life. If you have tear ducts that aren’t strong, I would highly recommend some tissues while watching.

Release Date: theatrical release on November 8

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Just in Time for the Holidays

Movies that you can bring the whole family and all agree that at the end of the movie, it was a good movie. Except your Uncle Frank. He still thinks Paul Blart: Mall Cop is a good movie.

-Motherless Brooklyn

Edward Norton is pretty much a household name at this point in time. Most people have known him from his roles as a character in one of Wes Anderson’s films, The Narrator in Fight Club, or Derek Vinyard in American History X. Many don’t know him as a director or a writer but that changes now as Edward is set to release his adaptation of Motherless Brooklyn later this year. Based on the novel Jonathan Lethem, the story follows Lionel, a private investigator with Tourette’s syndrome and the hunt to find the killer who murdered his mentor, played by Bruce Willis, in the 1950’s. With Edward directing, writing, and producing the film it feels like any film that he has starred in before but it is the cast around him that really pulls the best out of him. Michael K. Williams plays Wynton Marsalis who is a famous trumpet player, especially during 50’s NYC; the movie is full of high fueled jazz and scenes that give the astonishing look of NYC in its prime.

Release Date: theatrically released on November 1

-Ford vs. Ferrari

Faster and faster is the speed of Ford vs. Ferrari which clocks in at a cool 152 minutes. Leaving the theater you won’t even realize you were in a seat that long since the intensity of Ken Miles (Christian Bale) and Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) hits the screen at the acceleration in which the story takes place. In 1963 Enzo Ferrari was approached by the Ford Motor Company for a buyout and was turned down when Fiat got word and intervened. When Henry Ford II gets word that the deal was turned down his next big plan is to take down Ferrari down in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, a race in Le Mans, France that is a 24 hour race through the countryside that your car must perform without mechanical failure. Ferrari had won 5 years in a row. With James Mangold (Logan, Walk the Line) in the directing chair, the high speed races and intensity that he brought out in the actors will leave your palms sweaty.

Release Date: theatrically released on November 15

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Criminal Justice Unit

-The Report

The extremely heavy docudrama following Daniel J. Jones and the  Senate Intelligence Committee as they investigated the use of torture by the CIA following the September 11th attacks seems like it might be a bore since a lot of it is about how a once a nearly 7,000 page report came to fruition but it is quite the opposite. Adam Driver plays Daniel J. Jones and Annette Bening plays Dianne Feinstein and as you watch their back and forth from each scene they share you dive deeper into the real life scenarios that were behind the curtains from America’s public eye. With a cast that runs deep of stars including Jon Hamm, Ted Levine, Michael C. Hall and Corey Stall the pace is nothing but a car chase scene short of a thriller.

Release Date: theatrically released on November 15. Streaming on Amazon Prime begins on November 29

-Just Mercy

“This is about all of us” is the tagline from the movie and it fully immerses you into thinking so. Following the true story of Walter McMillian (Jamie Foxx) who was wrongfully accused of killing Rhonda Morrison, and attorney Bryan Stevenson (Michael B. Jordan) who comes to defend his innonce after Walter was wrongfully imprisoned.

Release Date: theatrically released on December 25

-Clemency

Alfre Woodard needs to win an Oscar for a performance so strong that it feels like you are in the room of every scene with her through the tension and pain that is endured by her character. Alfre Woodard plays Warden Bernadine Williams, a death row warden who suffers from her own demons, her failing marriage, and the inevitable thought of having to put people through their last moments.

Release Date: theatrically released on December 27

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Netflix and Chill

These are films that are coming into a theater near you before their wide release on Netflix.

-Marriage Story

Noah Baumbach is releasing his newest film in a limited release on November 6th and on Netflix on December. I was fortunate enough to see it apart of the Film Fest 919 as the opening film. With a packed house and actress Martha Kelly there in attendance the film had overall positive reviews. I am one to agree with the chatter that was heard amongst the crowd while leaving. The story of a marriage that is at the end of its course, Charlie (Adam Driver) and Nicole (Scarlett Johansson) go through the horrible tribulations of what it is to get a divorce. Through powerful back and forth monologues by the story’s main characters, certain scenes feel like a little bit longer than necessary but fulfills a story that has it’s up’s and down’s.

Release Date: limited theatrical release on November 6, 2019, followed by digital streaming on December 6, 2019, by Netflix.

-The Two Popes

From double Academy Award–nominated and double BAFTA-winning screenwriter, Anthony McCarten comes the new biographical-comedy about Pope Benedict XVI (Anthony Hopkins) and Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio (Jonathan Pryce), who becomes the future Pope Francis. From the beginning it feels like it will be a very mundane story but instantly becomes very lovable because of the almost Armando Iannucci style back and forth, tongue in cheek delivered dialogue from the two juggernaut actors.

Release Date: limited release in the United States on 27 November 2019, followed by digital streaming on 20 December 2019, by Netflix.

-The King

Before I entered the theatre to see The King, I checked the runtime to see what I was getting myself into and I accidently saw a review that deemed it almost a Game of Thrones rip-off. Well I’m here to tell you that is not what you are in for. The King doesn’t feel like a slow-burn period piece film that is typically associated with the genre. With huge performances from Timothee Chalamet (King Henry V), Joel Edgerton (Falstaff), and Ben Mendelsohn(King Henry IV), the film immerses you into the period of the Hundred Years’ War with France. For some of these actors including Robert Pattinson and Joel Edgerton this is not the first time they have worked with director, writer, producer, David Michôd, who is also known for his work on The Rover and Animal Kingdom. With glorious dialogue and stunning set decoration the film will guide you through this savage story of King Henry’s reign from the beginning.

Release Date: scheduled to be released on October 11 in a limited theatrical run before digital streaming on November 1, 2019, by Netflix

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The Matti & BLURT Ratings (aka The Matties) (pictured above: film critic Daniel Matti and editor Jojo Mills)

  1. Parasite (10/10)
  2. JoJo Rabbit (9/10)
  3. Shepherd : The Story of a Jewish Dog (9/10)
  4. Greener Grass (9/10)
  5. Clemency (9/10)
  6. In Fabric (9/10)
  7. Ford vs. Ferrari (8/10)
  8. Just Mercy (8/10)
  9. The Two Popes (8/10
  10. Beanpole (8/10)
  11. Chicuarotes (8/10
  12. Motherless Brooklyn (8/10)
  13. Honey Boy (8/10)
  14. Waves (8/10)
  15. The Chambermaid (7/10)
  16. The Report (7/10)
  17. Marriage Story (7/10
  18. The King (7/10)

 

 

Indie Film Festival 919 Returns to Chapel Hill Oct. 9-13

Famous names associated with the indie gems include Adam Driver, Scarlett Johansson, Edward Norton, and Noah Baumbach. Check out key trailers, below.

BY DANIEL MATTI

The new Film Fest 919 is about to hit its 2nd year in Chapel Hill, NC. October 9th-13th. Silverspot Cinemas will have its seats filled with filmgoers to check out the hottest movies ranging from foreign films that took over the Cannes Film Festival to films that are coming out during the holiday season.

Top films include the opening night’s selection, The Marriage, directed by mumble-core king Noah Baumbach starring Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson. There’s also JoJo Rabbit, directed by Taika Waititi, who some will know as the director of Thor:Ragnarok, and What We Do In The Shadows, both of which will have 2 screenings that you can catch. Other hot titles include Parasite (Bong Joon-ho), Waves (Trey Edward Shults), and Motherless Brooklyn (Edward Norton).

Check out the full list of films here. Tickets are available now.

Marriage Story Teaser Trailer

JoJo Rabbit Teaser Trailer

Parasite Teaser Trailer

Waves Trailer

Motherless Brooklyn Trailer

Boy Howdy! Creem Documentary Film Interviews

Director Scott Crawford and writer/co-producer Jaan Uhelszki talk about their documentary on the legendary rock mag. Check out a film teaser as well as an extended trailer following the interview.

BY ROBIN E. COOK

Creem was a zany, larger-than-life rock magazine that could only have emerged in Detroit in the late 1960s. The personalities behind Creem were equally colorful, such as founder Barry Kramer and writers Dave Marsh and Lester Bangs. The magazine’s history is told in Boy Howdy! The Story of Creem, with interviews from former staffers and rock star fans.

The documentary was screened last month in Austin during South by Southwest, and Blurt interviewed the film’s director Scott Crawford and writer/ex-Creem scribe Jaan Uhelszki. (Ed. Note: Crawford, incidentally, originally founded Blurt in 2008, following the demise of his popular music magazine Harp; he subsequently handed off the reins to current owner Stephen Judge to embark upon a career in film. Jaan Uhelszki, in addition to her storied career as a journalist, was a contributor to both publications. I was proud to work with both of them. Don’t miss this film, period.—FM)

OST – Velvet Goldmine (Music From the Original Motion Picture)

Album: Velvet Goldmine (Music From the Original Motion Picture)

Artist: OST

Label: Universal Music Special Markets/Island/MVDaudio

Release Date: April 05, 2019

www.MVDaudio.com

BY MICHAEL TOLAND

Though poorly received when it came out in 1998, director Todd Haynes’ glam rock fantasy Velvet Goldmine has, over time, become a beloved cult classic. Whatever one thinks of the film’s reimagining of the relationship between David Bowie and Iggy Pop, though, the soundtrack is where it’s at. A mix of period cuts and glam rock covers performed by a pair of all-star bands made up of nineties alt.rock luminaries, the songlist is damn near impeccable, even with the absence of any Bowie cuts.

While the original compact disc version has been the perfect companion on many a road trip, MVD’s first-time vinyl reissue couldn’t be any more appropriate. Given the film’s time period and its musical metiere, letting the songs spin on wax (especially when as garishly colored as this half-blue/half-orange version) just fits. Needle in groove lets Teenage Fanclub & Elastica’s Donna Mathews’ version of the New York Dolls’ “Personality Crisis,” the Stooges’ “T.V. Eye” by the Wylde Rattz (AKA co-star Ewan McGregor fronting Ron Asheton, Thurston Moore, Don Fleming and others), and Placebo’s take on T. Rex’s “20th Century Boy” leap out of the speakers, teeth bared and power chords aflame. The less raging tracks fare just as well, especially the majestic interpretation of Steve Harley’s “Tumbling Down” from star Jonathan Rhys Meyers and the plethora of Roxy Music tunes (“2HB,” “Ladytron,” “Bitter’s End,” “Bitter-Sweet”) performed by the Venus in Furs, AKA Thom Yorke, Jonny Greenwood, Bernard Butler, Andy MacKay, and producer Paul Kimble. (For some reason Meyers’ take on Harley’s bizarre but affecting “Sebastian” didn’t make the cut on album.)

Speaking of Kimble, Grant Lee Buffalo, the band for whom Kimble played bass at the time, appears with an original: the pitch-perfect “The Whole Shebang,” which manages to sound period and just like its parent’s work at the same time. Ditto the two originals contributed by Shudder to Think, who ease back on their usual avant-garde weirdness to explore the diva-esque glam rock heart of their music with “Hot One” and “Ballad of Maxwell Demon.” Some actual vintage tunes appear as well: the real Roxy Music’s classic “Virginia Plain,” Lou Reed’s gorgeous “Satellite of Love,” T. Rex’s quirky “Diamond Meadows,” Brian Eno’s romping “Needle in the Camel’s Eye” (which runs over the opening credits in the movie) and, closing the LP, Harley’s breezy “Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me)” – quite possibly a lot of American glam fans’ introduction to this quirky British artist.

As both a sampler and a celebration of the seventies glam rock era, the Velvet Goldmine soundtrack is a gem. That it’s now out in the format that seems most natural to its era makes it gleam all the brighter.

DOWNLOAD: “Hot One,” “The Whole Shebang,” “Tumbling Down”

 

Watch Film Trailer for Upcoming Mojo Nixon Documentary

As we have said many times in the past, sometimes the news just writes itself, and we don’t need to add superfluous commentary…. Above photo by Kent Thompson, taken at a show during the ’80s at Charlotte’s Milestone Club that I also covered for some music magazine back in the day.

By Fred Mills

Yes indeed, the rumors are true: 2020 will bring a rock doc on the inimitable Mojo Nixon, indie rock hero, Tipper Gore scourge. (For a fun BLURT read involving Mojo, go HERE.) The long-overdue “The Mojo Manifesto”  is reportedly now-due from one Freedom Records & Films, and to cement that accusation, er, assertion, there is an official trailer.

Check it out:

Watch Trailer for ’70s Hippie Film “Magic Music Movie”

Flashback time – if you can remember the ’70s, you probably weren’t really there.

By Fred Mills

As Billboard so succinctly puts it – “An Elusive ’70s Band Reunites for One Last Jam in ’40 Years in the Making: The Magic Music Movie’

Indeed, the Magic Music band was a celebrated proto-jam/cosmic folk band out of Boulder back in the day that was tipped to be the next big thing. Until they weren’t, that is, and they eventually split up in 1975 with no albums recorded. So Emmy nominated producer Lee Aronosohn (Big Bang Theory) somehow got it in his head that he wanted to make a documentary about the group, and after tracking down the original members, he even engineered a reunion concert that he was able to film for doc.

 

It’s since been screened at a number of film festivals – including the Boulder Film Festival, natch, and will start opening at very select theaters starting this weekend. Then in early September it will be released digitally via The Orchard. Below, check out the official movie trailer.

LURE/KRAMER/STINSON/BURKE – L.A.M.F. Live at the Bowery Electric

January 01, 1970

www.mvdb2b.com

The Upshot: Walter Lure and company blast through Johnny Thunders’ legacy with a ramshackle joie de vivre that’s more about feel and soul than precision — just like the work of the man to whom it pays tribute.

BY MICHAEL TOLAND

L.A.M.F., the only studio album by Johnny Thunders’ infamous New Yawk punk ‘n’ roll band the Heartbreakers, turned 40 in 2017, outlasting its driving force by a good quarter of a century, Thunders, a notorious junkie, having passed away in ’91 in New Orleans. In anticipatory celebration, Heartbreakers co-guitarist and torchbearer Walter Lure assembled a dream team of Thunders cohorts and acolytes to perform the album front-to-back in its original Track Records 1977 order for a week-long residency in mid-November 1016 at the Bowery Electric venue, recording the shows for a proposed album and video. (For a detailed review of the event, along with the Heartbreakers’ backstory, check out journalist/photographer Caryn Rose’s account at Noisey.)

Joined by MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer (who played with Thunders in the short-lived Gang War), Blondie/Plimsouls drummer Clem Burke (who came up on the same downtown NYC scene as Thunders) and erstwhile Replacements/Guns ‘N Roses bassist Tommy Stinson (the ‘Mats being one of the few American bands to keep Thunders’ reckless rock ‘n’ roll spirit burning), plus guests, Lure delivers exactly the kind of rock show you’d expect from someone who came up that close to the flame.

The quartet plays like they rehearsed just enough to be on the same page with the songs, but not enough to be anything close to slick. Lure and Stinson share the vocals, with the former keeping to NYC cool and the latter bawling like an out-of-breath animal, while Lure and Kramer faithfully reproduce the original LP’s clashing six-string chaos and Burke calmly makes the case for being the best rock ‘n’ roll drummer alive. The ad hoc band acquits itself nicely on the usual classics like “Chinese Rocks” and “Born to Lose,” with Kramer singing “Let Go” and Burke doing Jerry Nolan’s “Can’t Keep My Eyes On You.” D Generation’s Jesse Malin guests on a feral “I Wanna Be Loved” and a poignant “It’s Not Enough”; Cheetah Chrome romps through “Goin’ Steady”; up-and-coming New York rocker Liza Colby brings soul to “I Love You”; and Chrome and Malin team up on a blazing “Pirate Love.” The whole thing comes clanging to a close with a Kramer-sung “Do You Love Me,” the Heartbreakers’ roaring bash through a Motown classic.

Production values are catch as catch can, with frequent out-of-focus video, a squirrelly mix that favors volume over nuance, a director clearly flying by the seat of his pants, especially in the editing room, and no effort put into maintaining continuity between the three different performances captured in order to compile the film. It makes one wonder if the decision to shoot it was last minute. But you know what? That’s all fine, even appropriate. Johnny Thunders never chased perfection when he could nail the moment, and Lure and company blast through his legacy with a ramshackle joie de vivre that’s more about feel and soul than precision — just like the work of the man to whom it pays tribute.

STILL LIKE A MOTHERFUCKER: The Heartbreakers’ Classic LP, Revived

As released on DVD and LP to chronicle a series of 2016 concerts, and more recently celebrated on a 2017 mini-tour, the iconic punk album proves its staying power.

BY MICHAEL TOLAND

L.A.M.F., the only studio album by Johnny Thunders’ infamous New Yawk punk ‘n’ roll band the Heartbreakers, turned 40 in 2017, outlasting its driving force by a good quarter of a century, Thunders, a notorious junkie, having passed away in ’91 in New Orleans. In anticipatory celebration, Heartbreakers co-guitarist and torchbearer Walter Lure assembled a dream team of Thunders cohorts and acolytes to perform the album front-to-back in its original Track Records 1977 order for a short residency in mid-November 2016 at the Bowery Electric venue, recording the shows for a proposed album and video. (For a detailed review of the event, along with the Heartbreakers’ backstory, check out journalist/photographer Caryn Rose’s account at Noisey.) The video rendering recently arrived on DVD courtesy Jungle/MVD.

 

Joined by MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer (who played with Thunders in the short-lived Gang War), Blondie/Plimsouls drummer Clem Burke (who came up on the same downtown NYC scene as Thunders) and erstwhile Replacements/Guns ‘N Roses bassist Tommy Stinson (the ‘Mats being one of the few American bands to keep Thunders’ reckless rock ‘n’ roll spirit burning), plus guests, Lure delivers exactly the kind of rock show you’d expect from someone who came up that close to the flame.

The quartet plays like they rehearsed just enough to be on the same page with the songs, but not enough to be anything close to slick. Lure and Stinson share the vocals, with the former keeping to NYC cool and the latter bawling like an out-of-breath animal, while Lure and Kramer faithfully reproduce the original LP’s clashing six-string chaos and Burke calmly makes the case for being the best rock ‘n’ roll drummer alive. The ad hoc band acquits itself nicely on the usual classics like “Chinese Rocks” and “Born to Lose,” with Kramer singing “Let Go” and Burke doing Jerry Nolan’s “Can’t Keep My Eyes On You.” D Generation’s Jesse Malin guests on a feral “I Wanna Be Loved” and a poignant “It’s Not Enough”; Cheetah Chrome romps through “Goin’ Steady”; up-and-coming New York rocker Liza Colby brings soul to “I Love You”; and Chrome and Malin team up on a blazing “Pirate Love.” The whole thing comes clanging to a close with a Kramer-sung “Do You Love Me,” the Heartbreakers’ roaring bash through a Motown classic.

Production values are catch as catch can, with frequent out-of-focus video, a squirrelly mix that favors volume over nuance, a director clearly flying by the seat of his pants, especially in the editing room, and no effort put into maintaining continuity between the three different performances captured in order to compile the film. It makes one wonder if the decision to shoot it was last minute. But you know what? That’s all fine, even appropriate. Johnny Thunders never chased perfection when he could nail the moment, and Lure and company blast through his legacy with a ramshackle joie de vivre that’s more about feel and soul than precision — just like the work of the man to whom it pays tribute.

EDITOR’S NOTE: L.A.M.F. Live at the Bowery Electric has also been released as a limited edition (950 copies pressed), colored vinyl collectible, arriving in independent record stores for the annual Record Store Day “Black Friday” event. (The LP appears to not be listed on the Record Store Day website for that Black Friday sale, originally billed as a “RSD Limited Run/Regional Focus Release; but the BLURT braintrust eagerly snapped up copies on Black Friday, and as of this writing it appears to be available online but with only 950 copies in circulation, it probably won’t remain that way for long.)

And bringing things up to the present, the real 40th anniversary-of-L.A.M.F. was celebrated this past November 29 and 30, also at the Bowery Electric, followed by shows in Brooklyn, Los Angeles, Solana Beach, and San Francisco, where they wrapped on Dec. 4. The mini-tour featured a slightly different roster of players. Lure, obviously, headed things up, and fellow ground-zero punk Burke was also on hand; they were joined by Mike Ness of Social Distortion on guitar, and Sex Pistols/Rich Kids bassist Glen Matlock. Malin again was a special guest, having helped organize both the 2016 and 2017 shows, turning in spirited vocals on “Pirate Love,” “It’s Not Enough,” and — in the Thunders-centric four-song encore — the iconic “You Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Memory.”

Memories, indeed.

 

MOVIE THOUGHTS: Top 10 Films of 2017

BY DANIEL MATTI / BLURT FILM EDITOR

(Go HERE to view the Blurt Movie Thoughts master page, which has links to all previous installments.)

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  1. The Disaster Artist

From my love of a “behind the scenes” movie to my actual love of Tommy Wiseau’s 2001 The Room, The Disaster Artist continues to just be the one film that replays over and over in my head. Throughout the whole movie I had transcended into actually feeling like I was on set of The Room through James Franco’s Tommy Wieseau’s impression, alongside the huge cast of amazing actors and actresses that included Dave Franco, Seth Rogen, Ari Graynor, and Zac Efron. If you have not seen it because you are timid about James Franco making fun of it, or if you are just unfamiliar with it in general, I suggest taking a breath, watching The Room with a group of friends, and then watching The Disaster Artist.

 

  1. Good Time

This still has to be one of my favorite crime movies in quite a while. From one of the best scores of the year, by Oneohtrix Point Never, to the dark ‘80s vibe that has me anxious to see what the Safdie Brothers are gonna do next. What are they doing next? A remake of 48 Hours. Which has me very, very excited.

Read the rest of my thoughts here: https://blurtonline.com/2017/09/daniel-matti-movie-thoughts-three-new-film-reviews-2-0/

 

  1. The Killing of a Sacred Deer

Yorgos Lanthimos likes to make movies that will linger in your head for a very long time. I don’t think in all of 2017 I have seen a movie quite like this. Pretty sure I’ve never seen a movie like this ever.

Read the rest of my thoughts here: https://blurtonline.com/2017/12/daniel-matti-movie-thoughts-three-new-film-reviews-4-0/

 

  1. Raw

Seeing Raw without having any idea of what you are about to get yourself into is probably the best way to go into seeing it for maximum sense overload and an overall mind-blowing experience from director Julia Ducournau. Raw ends up being one of the most original cannibal stories in quite some time. Garance Marillier plays Justine, a devout vegetarian who just entered her first year of veterinarian school alongside her sister, Alexia, played by the wonderful Ella Rumpf. She enters a rough college world—from twisted hazing to her finding out who she really is—which is something really pro-founding. With cinematography overtones of Dario Argento, this is definitely a must-watch for any horror movie connoisseur.

 

  1. I, Tonya

This was one of the most spectacular surprises I had all 2017—from being unsure of seeing a movie I knew about from seeing on the news at a very young age and not caring then, to being completely spellbound by Margot Robbie’s portrayal of Tonya Harding and the story that covers not just “The Incident” but her life before and after. I can only hope that Robbie ends up taking the “Best Actress” award at this years Oscars.

 

 

  1. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

Unfortunately, I can see Valerian not making a lot of lists this year, but I had one of the best times at the theater seeing it. Hopefully after it hits the streaming services and physical copies are released, it will come back around and get the praise it deserves.

Read the rest of my thoughts here: https://blurtonline.com/2017/08/daniel-matti-movie-thoughts-three-new-film-reviews/

 

  1. Get Out

By far, one of the most multidimensional movies of the year was directed by Jordan Peele. Get Out was marketed as a horror movie where many thought it was not a horror movie. Whatever you thought the film brought to you, you can’t deny it being one of the best of 2017. Being that it’s Jordan Peele’s directorial debut is impressive and definitely has solidified for him a promising career in film.

 

  1. Brigsby Bear

One of the year’s most underrated movies was a small film done by a group of the Saturday Night Live current and past crew. Written and staring Kyle Mooney and produced by the Lonely Island (Akiva Schaffer, Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone) comedy trio, Brigsby Bear takes you on an ‘80s trip that has dark overtones of 2015’s Lenny Abrahamson-directed Room. Which is a confusing sentence to read if you do read that right: Lonely Island comedy mixed with Room. From the cast that also includes Mark Hamill, Claire Danes, and Greg Kinnear, it’s one that people should definitely check out.

 

  1. Colossal

From the new distribution company, Neon, came its first film of 2017 that casts a giant shadow into what the distribution company can bring to the table (the second movie they released this year is I, Tonya). Starring Anne Hathaway and Jason Sudeikis, Colossal is a comedic love story blended with giant monster movie vibes. Overall, just a solid movie that leaves you satisfied.

 

  1. The Big Sick

Kumail Nanjiani and Emily Gordon put the story of the entire relationship out on screen this year and it ended up being one of the most romantic movies of the year. From one of my favorite directors, Michael Showalter, to some of my favorite actors and actresses, The Big Sick will be hailed as one of the classic movies from the year of 2017 when we look back from years to come.

 

 

TRAGICALLY HIP – Long Time Running

Title: Long Time Running

Director: n/a

Release Date: December 01, 2017

www.eaglevision.com

The Upshot: A most fitting tribute to the Canadian stars – and a most fitting goodbye to their charismatic frontman.

BY JOHN B. MOORE

The Tragically Hip were most definitely a Canadian band. Despite some strong pockets of fervent fans in the U.S. and elsewhere across the globe, over the border up north they were U2, Springsteen, Petty and the Rolling Stones all rolled into one.

That diehard, decades-long devotion to the band can be seen throughout Long Time Running (95 mins; Eagle Vision), an emotional documentary focusing on The Tragically Hip’s farewell tour. With singer Gord Downie diagnosed with incurable brain cancer, the Ontario-based group decided to give their devotees a proper goodbye in the form of a 15-date cross-Canada run of shows in 2016. The film intersperses performance shots with fan testimonials and interviews with the band and Downie’s doctors.

After diagnosis, it was not clear that the band could perform again, with treatment causing Downie to forget most of the lyrics to their songs, but the singer that eventually took the stage month later seems to be in prime form, with the audience helping by singing along to every single song.

Even if you’ve never heard a minute of the Tragically Hip, there is still plenty to enjoy about Long Time Running. Emotional without being exploitive and appreciative without drifting into overt fawning over the subject, the directors did a commendable job of bringing to life a story about a band saying goodbye on its own terms