Birth of the Living Dead is a documentary about the making of one of my favorite films; Night of the Living Dead. It contains a treasure trove of trivia about how George A. Romero, NOTLD’s director and screenwriter, added the zombie to the classic monster roster with the help of a rag-tag group of investors and first-time actors and filmmakers. But unlike Frankenstein’s Monster, Dracula, and The Wolfman, zombies were added as a whole, as a collective. Forty-five years after NOTLD’s release, zombies are more popular than ever, which makes me a very happy man.
Sandra Bullock has another huge hit on her hands. Everybody seems to love Gravity, and I’m no exception. I’d say I’m a mid-range Sandra Bullock fan. She rarely saves a film that’s careening toward the crapper from the first read-through (Demolition Man, Speed 2: Cruise Control), but she’s notched memorable performances in lots of great movies in different genres.
Beware of Mr. Baker, is a documentary about Ginger Baker, one of the world’s greatest drummers. It made me audibly express amazement twice, and only once because of his drumming. The film’s title is taken from a sign at the gate of Baker’s South African property–and talk about truth in advertising! B.O.M.B. begins, and ends, with Baker physically assaulting its director, who then laughs it off! Celebrity insulates, but some artists are so influential that it’s an honor to be in their orbit, even momentarily, regardless of the circumstances.
It was beginning to look like I’d never type these words, but Jennifer Aniston has finally been in an excellent movie! And not just an excellent movie–but a better movie than any other Friends alumni has made.
Rock & roll movies are my focus, but I made an exception for The Conjuring because the only thing that rivaled rock & roll for my earliest affections was horror films. I was just as likely to be found reading Famous Monsters Of Filmland magazine as Hit Parader. And I loved the rockers who recognized a market at that particular intersection–Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, and later Alice Cooper and KISS. I was delighted to get a “two-for-one.”
Sound City was a Los Angeles studio where over a hundred certified gold and platinum albums were recorded during the 70’s and 80’s. It’s also the subject of a documentary of the famed analog studio and its fabled soundboard, which includes an in-studio jam with director Dave Grohl and some of his former bandmates.
Turner Classic Movies has recently restored the concert film/documentary Elvis: That’s the Way It Is, adding “lost” footage, and re-cutting the entire film. The new (2007) two-disc set includes the original DVD release augmented with the new, superior version and a few extras.
Reverb Junkies is a documentary about surf music that’s full of interview segments with concert-goers who are less likely to yell “Freebird!” than “Reverb!” Junkies focuses on the fans of surf music rather than it’s history, but their enthusiasm keeps it interesting, and lots of history seeps in.
When I was a kid, in the days before movie rentals and the internet, you got one chance a year to see The Wizard Of Oz, and if you had any sense at all, you took it. Year after year, I kept watching the film, figuring that when I stopped enjoying it, I would officially have become a grown up. By that measure, I still haven’t, despite possessing crippling credit card debt, which is usually what separates the men from the boys.
I proved to myself that I’m a forgiving person by watching Billy Bob Thornton’s new flick Baytown Outlaws. I recently read his autobiography, and was able to let bygones be bygones. After all, he did cowrite one of my favorite movies, The Gift. While Billy Bob’s involvement in Outlaws didn’t quite make us even, it didn’t make me regret my forgiving nature either.