Saturday, June 9, 2018

Jason goes to Docfest--Day 8

A night of music docs, which has always been an Indiefest/Docfest thing.

First up was a completely packed screening of GODFATHERS OF HARDCORE. A portrait of a seminal New York hardcore punk band, Agnostic Front. It's full of great archival footage, but the real treat is the modern stuff--interviews really getting to know the guys, and footage of the concerts they still do all the time. Vinnie Stigma is a total live wire. A vibrant, crazy personality who is full of stories from the old days and humorously rail against the gentrification of his neighborhood. The complete opposite is Roger Miret (who was there for the screening) who is a control freak, planning everything, and admits he doesn't know how to relax (and is the subject of a pretty drastic health scare.) The movie takes an engaging and interesting tour through their stage shows, their home lives, and their legacy. Although it's weird to talk about "legacy" when they're still rocking hard today, into their 60's.
Vintage footage of Agnostic Front, who are still rockin' today

Then the next show started with a way-too-long short, SAN FRANCISCO'S FIRST AND ONLY ROCK N' ROLL MOVIE: CRIME 1978. Vintage footage of a shitty local band in the 70s. I was bored, except by the comments of the venue's emcee (we learned afterward that those comments weren't originally between the songs, but at the end of the show, as he was trying to get everyone to leave.) There's a potentially great avant-garde movie to be made just out of the comments from that emcee, you just need to get rid of everything featuring the band (or as they like to advertise, the "banned.")
Crime--ironically dressed as police

And that was the lead-in to the way-too-long feature, ICEPICK TO THE MOON. It starts with the mythical Rev. Dr. Fred Lane, a "stripmine crooner" with dadaist roots. The swinging, jazzy music is the backing for the ridiculous lyrics. And his legend grew in large part due to his record covers, which included fictional covers of his "other" records (in fact, he only released 2.) The first 20-30 minutes of the documentary covers this urban legend aspect--is Fred Lane even real? Then it pretty unceremoniously answers it. His real name is Tim Reed, he lives in Tuscaloosa, he;s a dadaist artist from way back, and he now makes whirligigs and sells them at art fairs. And he's an all-around cool weirdo, as we find in this exhausting film, which takes us to the early days and his equally bizarre dadaist friends, who form the collective Raudelunas and explore pataphysical science. He's a fun guy, the whole group is fun. They just deserved a better documentary, one that was perhaps more judicious in the editing and less repetitive in their desire to use every bit of Fred Lane footage they could possibly find.
Fred Lane, being Fred Lane
Total Running Time: 234 minutes
My Total Minutes: 482,871

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