Monday, May 02, 2011

CIMMFest Recap

The weather could have been better. Walking from the festival HQ (the basement of a converted church where we saw Color Me Obsessed) to the theater where we caught Freaks in Love, we managed to get soaked to the bone by a torrent of freezing rain. The next day was a little better when the rain gave way to snow... in the middle of April.

Color Me Obsessed proved to be an interesting experimental documentary. It's the first time that I've seen a doc about a band (in this case, The Replacements) where none of the band's members, music, or even album covers made an appearances. Director Gorman Bechard did some very clever workarounds to that end and even employed some techniques that I wish more traditional music documentaries would do, such as going album by album by the band featured and displaying the track listing. He also put The Replacements into context a bit by describing their album sales compared to other albums released the same year. Alas, I was unaware of The Replacements as a young punk rocker and only knew them from their last few alternative radio-friendly albums. I didn't know that they could rock out. Also, they're one of those bands that carried a lot of emotional baggage for me as they were my ex-wife's favorite group. Putting those things aside, I would have liked to have heard their music and judged for myself during Color Me Obsessed but that was not to be. The "trick" of not featuring The Replacements's music wore out its welcome for some viewers but the film managed to hold my interest, even as my legs were falling asleep on the uncomfortable church pews where I saw it.

I don't necessarily feel right reviewing Freaks in Love since my good friend and Cashiers du Cinemart contributor Skizz Cyzyk edited and co-directed it. Let me just say that it was terrific seeing the full film after having seen clips over the last year. I think I can be unobjective enough to posit that Freaks in Love is as good (if not better) than a lot of the band documentaries people will see. It won't get a huge buzz because the people in Alice Donut aren't huge drug abusers and don't hate one another. In that way, Freaks in Love isn't a typical band documentary. Hell, they even got together after they broke up for a while so there isn't the big rift between members of the band that we expect to see in the usual fare.

Speaking of dysfunctional bands, drug abuse, and insanity... there's so much of it in directors Don Argott & Demian Fenton's Last Days Here that I kept wondering if the movie was a mockumentary. It didn't help that I'm completely unfamiliar with the band Pentagram. Likewise, though a lot of people discuss their music throughout Last Days Here, there's very little of the music on the soundtrack. Or, at least, there's not enough of it to justify the heaps of praise that the documentary's participants heap at the feet of the band.

Since seeing Last Days Here I downloaded some Pentagram music and I'm not unimpressed, though it doesn't seem to blaze any trails that Black Sabbath didn't. The idea that Pentagram is some kind middle ground between Sabbath and the Sex Pistols really doesn't hold water for me. Plus, I'm not even sure if that's chronologically accurate.

Regardless, Last Days Here is a fairly fascinating work. I walked away with some nagging questions (What happened to Bobby Liebling's parents after he moved out of the sub-basement? How much were they enabling him? How'd he get his hands on so much crack? How in the world did they get so many people to that NYC Pentagram show?) but I've been able to sleep without having them disturb me too badly.

Sunday we caught The Anatomy of Vince Guaraldi (reviewed in another post) before we headed down the highway back to Detroit.

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