The NW Film Center's annual music-documentary fest expands across town this week. Here are two standouts:
Could be the fact that I've loped through life as a frequently frustrated musician who wants to have a hand in creating at least one perfect song before I die, but I get goose bumps on my brain whenever I watch that scene in
in which the Stones kick back to listen to a mix of "Wild Horses" that is so good even those arrogant pricks seem shocked by it. Since I'll probably have to continue to settle for vicarious fulfillment of rock-'n'-roll fantasies,
is, despite its employment of Henry Rollins, about as essential as a glorified episode of
can be. Stooges fans are already familiar with the creation myth—Iggy meets Bowie, the Stooges gather in London,
is born and then gets a Stardust bath before its release, Stooges implode—and this brief hagiography doesn't add much shading to the tale. But when Iggy—latter-day California Raisin Iggy—sits at a mixing board to listen to the transcendent racket he and his fellow Ann Arbor scumbags put to tape in 1972, the film becomes something more than another slick promotional product destined for a future box set. It becomes a portrait of the artist as an old man who knows he made something mind-blowingly fucking perfect one day. Lucky him. Lucky us. CHRIS STAMM.
There's a scene in
in which Angelo Moore is bouncing, in tandem with his tweener daughter, dangerously high on a trampoline in his mother's backyard in suburban Los Angeles. "There's cement under, don't jump so high!" Mrs. Moore yells at the pair. Angelo—who, broke and entering his 40s, has recently moved back home—tries to pull a backflip before landing awkwardly. "Yaaay!" he hollers after taking a hard fall to the ground and curling into a ball. It's a hilarious moment in a movie that's jampacked with them. It's also a metaphor for Angelo Moore's life as frontman for Fishbone, one of the most influential punk bands of the past 30 years. As indestructible as he seems in concert—often throwing himself into mosh pits, fighting with mic stands and diving off stacks of speakers—his career has had more concrete-lined downs than ups.
attempts to find out why, and discovers that—while the racial politics of the music industry certainly hindered the band—Moore may have just bounced too recklessly for the rest of his group to follow. The film spends as much time following a depressed, hired-guns-packed recent incarnation of Fishbone around the world as it does retracing the band's middle-school roots, its emergence in the L.A. punk scene and its brief shot at fame. Its core interviews combine to form an intensely personal examination of commercial failure and of what it means to hold on to a dying dream. I honestly can't remember the last time I came away from a movie feeling so inspired and emotionally drained at the same time. Fishbone fought like hell to make music on its own terms, and its members have nothing but memories to show for their journey. Well, memories and an excellent documentary, anyway. CASEY JARMAN.
Reel Music 28 continues through Tuesday, Jan. 18. See more coverage on page 25 and full listings at nwfilm.org.