Monday, 10 April 2017

Three music documentaries

Last week, Timur and I went to watch these movies at the Monopol Music Festival. In English, with Spanish subtitles.

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years

a film by Ron Howard

I’ve been listening to The Beatles for as long as I remember myself. I can’t honestly say that I learned a lot of new stuff about the Fab Four from this film. But I enjoyed it all the same. As for Timur, I hope his curiosity about The Beatles is not satisfied. The version we watched in Monopol (as we were warned beforehand) lacked half an hour or so of 1965 Shea Stadium concert. Thank goodness for that, it must have been terrible. Most of The Beatles footage was. On the other hand, the interviews are brilliant.

The film covers, so to speak, The Red Album years. (It also includes, for reasons unknown, a fragment of the famous rooftop concert which was the last public performance of the band but has nothing to do with “touring”.) John, Paul, George and Ringo were getting tired of the gigs but not of each other (yet). Brian Epstein was still alive. The future looked bright.

Score: A Film Music Documentary

a film by Matt Schrader

We went to see this film on Timur’s suggestion and it proved to be much more interesting than its description or trailer would suggest. Not only because, or even not so much because of giants like John Williams or Hans Zimmer who appear there. I was much more impressed by other composers — too many to list here and frankly I forgot most of the names — who also happen to be great musicians, arrangers and/or conductors. Perhaps inevitably, being an American movie, it mainly focuses on American film scores. (By and large, I find American movie music too intrusive for my liking. I wish there were separate volume controls for music, dialogue and ambient noises on the remote.) Even the scenes in London’s AIR and Abbey Road studios show “making of” Hollywood music. It would be interesting to see the idea of Score applied to contemporary European cinema.

Metallica: Some Kind of Monster

a film by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky

This 2004 documentary portrays Metallica in the middle of their creative, existential, or midlife (delete as appropriate) crisis. I didn’t know much about the band before and watching the film didn’t make me a fan.

First, Lars Ulrich emerges as a biggest asshole in rock history (to his credit, Lars admits that himself) thanks to Metallica vs. Napster lawsuit. Then James Hetfield goes to Russia to hunt bears and drink vodka. Then Lars decides to sell his godawful paintings at Christie’s to raise some cash (quite a lot of it). All the while, they don’t stop bickering. The whole thing looks like they are unwittingly remaking This is Spın̈al Tap without being nearly as likeable as Spın̈al Tap. And they don’t show too much wit either.

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