You can't have a music-themed film festival without showing some music videos.
NW Film Center's annual Reel Music Festival kicks off this week, and while the documentary lineup is typically stellar (see below), organizers made room for the little guys. On Tuesday, Jan. 17, there will be a showcase of videos by directors from across the Pacific Northwest, many from Oregon. We've previewed a few—mainly the ones from Portland artists—below.
Synopsis: Local burnouts do drugs with an odd group of older strangers. Things quickly go awry.
Crucial moment: One member of the band wakes up to find his face being eaten by a guy dressed like Colonel Sanders.
Key YouTube comment: "well now I don't have to take that ayahuasca trip I was planning."
Director: Whitey McConnaughy
Synopsis: Red Fang goes to war against an invisible foe stalking the band in the forest like some sort of…predator.
Crucial moment: Guitarist David Sullivan tries shooting a machine gun, and the recoil lands him impaled on a branch. He takes it pretty well, though.
Key YouTube comment: "That was so shitty it was great."
Director: Brett Roberts
Synopsis: A punk-rock terrorist organization kidnaps a dude and brainwashes him into attempting to assassinate Donald Trump.
Crucial moment: Sparks shoot out of Eric "Vegetable" Olson's guitar. It has nothing to do with the story, but hey.
Key YouTube comment: "fuckling true punk rock make want to mess up everything around here but my daughter is sleeping"
Director: Lara Jean Gallagher and Brian Kinkley
Synopsis: A woman eats a sentient egg sandwich, proceeds to trip balls.
Crucial moment: When the fried egg's life flashes before his big, googly eyes—and it's mostly made up of grainy public domain footage.
Key YouTube comment: "Resisting the urge to write 'eggscellent" and oh shit I did it anyways."
Director: Edward P. Davee
Synopsis: Oh, the horror!
Crucial moment: Singer Kira Clark gives herself a blood facial.
Key YouTube comment: "Fuck, yes! Visuals and music are pure fucking depressing lunatic bliss."
Director: Robbie Augspurger
Synopsis: A bewitching femme fatale hires Wampire to track down a mysterious wizard.
Crucial Moment: Our heroes appear to give up on their mission and read a book of wizard jokes instead.
Key YouTube Comment: "the more I watch this video the more confused I become. At the same time the more confused I become the more I want to watch it. Gotta love these guys though. Wizard jokes, genius."
SEE IT: The NW Music Video Showcase is at Skype Live Studio, 1211 SW 6th Ave., on Tuesday, Jan. 17. 7 pm. Free.
The Five Must-See Films of Reel Music 2017
Robert Frank's chronicle of the Rolling Stones' debaucherous 1972 tour is so notorious that there are legal restrictions on when and how it can be shown. But considering the Stones are somehow still alive and chicken-walking—a documentary on the band's 2016 trek across Latin America screens the next day—what was once a voyeuristic cautionary tale is now a testament to the life-sustaining properties of groupies and cocaine. 7 pm Friday, Jan. 13.
The Jazz Loft According to W. Eugene Smith
One of several jazz-centric films screening this year, this retrospective on the Manhattan apartment building that became a home and rehearsal space for the likes of Thelonious Monk should hit Portlanders the hardest following the loss of Jimmy Mak's. "Jazz has always struggled for a place," says one talking head. Tell us about it. 4:30 pm Saturday, Jan. 14.
Even in an era when no music or medium is really obscure, gramophone recordings remain the province of a very particular brand of fetishist. Using interviews and dreamy interludes shot on 16 mm, director Joel Schlemowitz explores one of the last truly niche collector subcultures left. 7 pm Tuesday, Jan. 17.
You may not think you want to watch an hour and a half of synchronized flag-flipping, but anything conceived by David Byrne is worth checking out. Pairing original music from St. Vincent, Blood Orange, Tune-Yards and others with routines from some of the best color guard teams in North America, it's sure to blow away anything you've seen at a high school football game, recently, at least. 7 pm Saturday, Jan. 21.
Scandinavia's black metal scene is well-documented. But rather than gawking further at the corpse paint and church burnings, this Norwegian-made film takes a broader view of the culture, looking at how it's consumed fans in places where any form of rock 'n' roll is considered "the devil's music," let alone music that literally salutes the devil—and it's not afraid to wink at its more absurd elements, either. 7 pm Saturday, Jan. 28.