Sex, drugs & rock’n’roll (and electropop)!

Do we really need to know the tawdry details of Eric Clapton’s lovelorn years mooning over [Geroge Harrison’s wife] Pattie Boyd, his lost decade of alcoholism and heroin or his nasty views about Enoch Powell? Hell yes, we do. As a famous 1960s photograph of a graffito on a London wall said: “Clapton is God.” That photo appears in Lili Fini Zanuck’s […] documentary, along with perhaps every other still photograph ever taken of the man. Photographs carry the story here, along with voices, rather than filmed interviews. Actually, it works. We may not see what Boyd looks like now, but who cares? She talks frankly and openly and Zanuck, who won an Oscar with her husband Richard Zanuck for best picture as producer of Driving Miss Daisy [1989], turns weaknesses into strengths. The voices run over the stills, bringing them to life, like we’re in someone’s living room hearing
Screenings
There are unlikely starting positions, and then there are utterly impossible starting positions. Rapper Mercedes Bentso’s ascent from a life of drugs with a violent man to a recording artist stirs up both admiration and protective instincts. Never Again is Aino Suni’s first feature-length documentary film. It follows the eventful life of Linda-Maria Roine, a.k.a. Mercedes Bentso, for a span of several years. Roine hoists herself up from a druggy slumber to work on a record with a vapid group of producers who try to dictate how her record should sound. The men in Roine’s life mistreat her by default, that is until she meets Janne, who is serving a life sentence for murder. The film’s portrayal of women, mothers and daughters, as well as the female rappers showing each other support in a male-dominated industry, is particularly touching. A speck of blue sky shines through a bubble-shaped shopping mall
Screenings

Nico, 1988 (2017)

A zombie-pitch-perfect performance by Trine Dyrholm. [Most] of the time, [Nico, 1988] sticks close to the desperate, scattered psychodrama of Nico’s last two years – the period captured, with frightening close-up voyeurism, in the 1995 documentary Nico Icon. In that movie, we seemed to be watching Nico destroy herself, but Nico, 1988 takes a more casual and, at times, even jaunty attitude toward its heroine’s proudly functional middle-aged depravity. Nico was born Christa Päffgen, and in the film just about everyone calls her Christa, making you realize that Nico is a character she’s still playing but no longer believes in. Nico, 1988 […] understands the mystique of her anti-mystique, and deserves to attract a small but fascinated audience on the specialty circuit. Dyrholm’s performance is a powerhouse of authenticity. Her moroseness is mesmerizing, but she also gives Nico a tense intelligence, and her singing is uncanny. Owen Gleiberman, Variety […]
Screenings

Studio 54 (2018)

There’s a memorable moment in Studio 54, Matt Tyrnauer’s thrilling and definitive documentary about the fabled disco haven, in which the camera glides through the gilded lobby of the old theater the club was built in, approaching the doors, the beat throb-throb-throbbing in the muted distance. The camera then pushes through the doors and onto the dance floor […], and for a moment we feel like we’re melting into the elation of the writhing horde. For those of us who never went (and probably couldn’t have gotten in if we tried), Studio 54 lets you taste a bit of the ecstasy. Tyrnauer, the director of Valentino: The Last Emperor and Citizen Jane: Battle for the City, is a next-generation classicist who, in this movie, assembles photographs and amateur film footage with kaleidoscopic dexterity. The film shows you the club from every angle, and seems to be gawking at every patron.
Screenings

Wild Dogs – A Herstory of the Music Producer (2018)

The beat gives shape to a geometric pattern, a pink dog wakes up to the sounds of a synthesizer, and there’s mist hanging all over. Psychedelic drawings reinterpret and complete the music. Wild Dogs – A Herstory of the Music Producer is a beautiful documentary film about women as music producers, made with a Swedish sense of style – so much more than just turning knobs at the studio. Wild Dogs focuses on a project of a network called Popkollo encouraging women and transgender people to produce music and helping them get off the ground. The business is already full of women, but mostly as objects of gaze with no power over the artistic outcome. Popkollo is set to change that. The first step is getting to know the equipment and learning about how different effects work. Gradually, it becomes clear that the craft is not impossible – just something
Screenings