Starting Thursday night (4/14), Chicago will play host to a wide range of music-related narrative films and documentaries at the Chicago International Movie and Music Festival (CIMM Fest). The films are as diverse as the musicians that they feature from industrial rockers Ministry (FIX)to the smooth jazz of Vince Guaraldi (The Anatomy of Vince Guaraldi).
Devin DiMattia's Firewall of Sound tells the story of the demise of physical music media (cassettes, CDs, vinyl) and the rise of digital music. I can see Firewall of Sound being an important document of the last fifteen years some years from now. Coming out in 2011, the material is far too fresh (and still too painful). The documentary explores how insubstantial music as files can be and the loss of the communal experience of learning about and sharing music with friends.
I went into Upside Down: The Creation Records Story with an open mind only to realize that I still can't stand the loopy guitars and whiny vocals of shoe-gazing bands like Ride, Swervedriver, and Jazz Butchers. (I still think "Upside Down" by Jesus and Mary Chain sounds like the Mary Tyler Moore Show theme, "Love is All Around").
I'll be honest and say that I wasn't a huge fan of The Ballad of Mott the Hoople. It's very much a talking-head documentary that managed to keep my interest for a little over an hour but then started to drag. Maybe that's due to the typical "band trajectory" where the mighty always fall.
Likewise, FIX doesn't do the job it should; proving that Ministry has much of anything to say. The interviews with front man Al Jourgensen just make me dislike him even more (I wasn't sure that was possible). I guess if you think Ministry is talented, immature behavior is cool, and Jourgensen isn't a nob, then maybe you'll like FIX but if you're on the fence about them or don't like them... prepare to get your hate on even more.
A good ironic double feature would be FIX and Bob and the Monster to see just how heroin can fuck a person up. Seeing it glamorized in FIX does everyone a disservice.
I won't profess to be familiar with all of the films and bands that CIMM has and that's the real fun of it. Attendees can learn the tragic tale of Blaze Foley in Blaze Foley: Duct Tape Messiah or Bob Forrest from Thelonious Monster in Bob and the Monster. Even when it comes to bands with which you may be familiar, the better films still manage to pack some surprises.
An interesting game to play during the festival will be to see who the biggest documentary whores are these days. My money is either on Gibby Haynes or Jello Biafra. (They're the John Waters and Quentin Tarantino of the music world).
The two Canadian narratives I caught, Ivory Tower and Score: A Hockey Musical, really scratched an itch. Like most Canadian cinema, these were low key, quirky and humorous.
There are a number of flicks I'm excited to see at CIMMFest; Rock 'n' Roll… Of Corse!, Le Tigre On Tour, Everyday Sunshine: The Story of Fishbone, Gravity Was Everywhere Back Then, and Freaks in Love.
CIMMFest starts Thursday April 14 and runs until Sunday April 17.