Posts Tagged ‘documentary’

Big fun In The Big Town

Thursday, May 24th, 2012

Just seen in the Metro free paper, this documentary from 1986 is now out on DVD.

I must admit, I’ve never seen it, although I heard about it.

Although, not as acclaimed as Henry Chalfont’s earlier ‘Style Wars’, it nonetheless is a fascinating cultural time capsule

Although, much of this is available online – you can now own a bit of hip hop history yourself, without having to wait for your PC to buffer.

A glimpse into an emerging culture, where expression & talent was still at the core, with future stars in their (much) younger days.

There’d better be extras & unseen footage – now where’s my fat laces……….

Still Bill – Wotta Guy………….

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

There are times, like now, when I feel that there’s just not much point in anything. Not a stark, need-to-seriously-contemplate-checking-out-of-life type thing (‘though I’ve had a few of those moments in my time), but more of a general frustration at life’s bad timing and general ‘suckiness’.Errant technology, life’s minutiae, the little irritants & peeves, continued & conflicting demands, petty dramas & drama queens, draining your energy & taking up your time. |So much so, you look back & say “what the HELL have I actually done? Why do I put up with this @$!£ ?”

I’ve felt like this for a while, then I saw the documentary ‘Still Bill: The Bill Withers Story’ on the BBC iPlayer. This is one seriously cool guy.

He grew up in a (essentially) rural backwater in the Southern USA, with a stutter he didn’t lose until his 20’s in a period of intense social change becoming a recording star in his 30’s after being told he was too old. His outlook, as a consequence of his upbringing, reflects the type of personality I wish I had or the person I should aspire to be.

He simply stopped at what some would call at the peak of his popularity. He always said he never quit; he simply decided to do something else. Considering the number and range of jobs, including engineer, military serviceman, making aircraft toilets, before becoming a singer/songwriter, this isn’t exactly the talk of a bitter & twisted has-been (although at times the cynic in him did lay close to the surface).

That said, his apparent contrary nature always seemed rooted in a straightforward, pragmatic honesty. His erm, withering take on the nature of ‘celebrity culture’, working with other musicians (including his daughter); indeed talking to his children, he’s direct but fair & honest. One of the things he said stuck with me: “In order to be great, or even good at anything you have to pass through ‘Alright’ & when you get to ‘Alright’,stop & take a good look around, because it may be the best you’re gonna get.”

 

And yet, when he went to a  centre for children with speech impediments, his concern & support of those students was all too evident, in complete contrast to his discussion with the interviewers elsewhere in the film.

 

Watching it  hasn’t stopped me from being grumpy, but at least it helped give me a sense of perspective. That & I don’t stay too mad too long.

 

Too bad he couldn’t adopt me.

Style Wars: The Anniversary

Friday, November 11th, 2011

Those of a certain age into hip hop will remember the seminal documentary ‘Style Wars’.

Whilst its primary focus was on the world of Grafitti/ Spray can artists or ‘writers’, it also featured some segment on the b-boys. Those of us hungry for more of the newly-emerging urban subculture seized it, watched it again & again, digesting every frame & factiod. despite having been shot on a budget smaller than a gnat’s hiccup, it is in my opinion, an important part of hip hop history as well as an incredible piece of social documentation.

It’s also one of the few attempts to directly observe, rather than simply cash in on hip hop or youth culture. It’s not perfect & some may question its objectivity but considering the social & political climate in which it was made, it’s incredible it got made at all.

Pitchfork media have done an article about how it came to be made, going back to the artists, film makers, in advance of its 25th anniversary.

You can find the article here.

You can also go to the Style Wars website & see the outtakes.

Here’s an example, with Henry Chalfont discussing the film & the current restoration project:

Anyone who is into hip hop most likely owes a lot to this important piece of film-making. Apparently they need donations to help restore over 30 hours of footage. If you think you can help, donate, if not, just check the website & show them some support.

Dream Of Life

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

Was on Pitchfork.com & came across this experimental documentary about Patti Smith.

I can’t say I’m a fan, but I was intrigued. Someone has distilled 11 years of footage into a 6-7 minute short.