Amoeblog

The Muscle Shoals Documentary: A Tale of Two Studios, One Sound

Posted by Kelly S. Osato, October 17, 2013 03:50pm | Post a Comment
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From Dave Grohl's Sound City to 20 Feet From Stardom there have been some really great music-related documentary films released recently, perhaps none so overwhelmingly transcendental as the story of a reliable hit-maker and an iconic sound rooted in a sleepy corner of Alabama called Muscle Shoals
muscle shoals welcome sign alabama soul music fame rick hall studios documentary

Between providing the most literal rendering of "I'll Take You There" and dabbling in discovering the metaphysical origins of what has come to be lauded as the "Muscle Shoals sound," Muscle Shoals blends reflective interviews of those who lived and tracked the music, bolstered by snippets and loops of the iconic sound itself, with layers of pastoral vistas and rustic rural vignettes of the surrounding countryside, playing like a gorgeous cinematographic back-mask. Combined with the fleeting highs and the tragic lows experienced by musician, songwriter and Fame Studios producer Rick Hall, his session players, The Swampers (who would later found a similarly nondescript recording studio across town in a former casket factory), among others still living in the glory of the Muscle Shoals nexus, the film also depicts the triumph of a phenomenon bigger than anyone can fully understand nowadays: the earthly crossroads of soul, country, funk and rock and roll at a time when "separate but equal" was the order of the day. 

Summer is Icumen In... Again: The Wicker Man: Final Cut now in theaters!

Posted by Kelly S. Osato, October 1, 2013 07:05pm | Post a Comment
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Not an Autumn goes by that I don't indulge in the ultimate cinematic sacrifice to the regenerative forces of Spring by viewing the most excellent British cult classic The Wicker Man (not to be confused with the poorly-honeyed and over-the-top misogynist romp of a remake starring Nicholas Cage). This year's viewing, however, will be an extra special treat in that the film is celebrating 40 years of horrific pagan pageantry with the theatrical release of The Wicker Man: The Final Cut wherein director Robin Hardy's original vision is finally restored.

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For those who have never seen it, take warning. This film is unsettling in that it is a bit of a musical studded with weird sex scenes and even weirder segments debatably necessary nudity, often interrupted by non-violent horror elements and culturally-confused comedic spells all revolving around a central mystery thread: a child is reported missing from a remote Hebridean island and the stringent Sergeant Howie (Edward Woodward), come from the mainland, is determined to find out what happened. The result is a very revisitable cinematic delight, though it ultimately leaves disconcerting and, depending on your moral compass, a horrifically distressful aftertaste.

King Arthur lives (and procures a shrubbery) this Sunday at the Castro Theatre in SF!

Posted by Kelly S. Osato, September 21, 2013 03:48pm | Post a Comment
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This Sunday the dark sensuality and brutal magic of John Boorman's Excalibur collides with Monty Python's excessively silly, low-budget quest for the Holy Grail as San Francisco's own Castro Theatre hosts a double feature comprised of two of the best loved interpretations of Arthurian Legend ever committed to memory...I mean celluloid film. With two showings of each film, the latter offering free coconut shells while supplies last, this cinematic concurrence is just one of many Castro two-fers that has really got me feeling thrilled to go out to the movies again (not to mention that these double feeches are two movies for one low price, dig). If you happen make it out to either of the late showings beware of yours truly, the geek that chants entire spans of dialogue in hushed tones (especially the Charm of Making) or otherwise forgets that Monty Python and the Holy Grail is not the Rocky Horror Picture Show (cue coconuts). 

Below I honor those who share my enthusiasm for these films by sharing not original, but rather very lovingly recut, fan-made trailers for both Excalibur and Monty Python and the Holy Grail. [huzzah]
 
EXCALIBUR shows at 1:45, 6:30...




Help Save the Historic Balboa Theatre in San Francisco

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, September 9, 2013 05:30pm | Post a Comment
Balboa 1941
Balboa Theatre, 1941

Many small theaters have adopted the rallying cry of "Go Digital, or Go Dark," and though that sounds dramatic, it is all too true. After 100 years of movies being screened from film, Hollywood is converting to digital. Every theatre must upgrade its projectors and associated equipment by the end of this year.

The Balboa Theatre opened in 1926 and has served San Francisco's Richmond district continuously since then. Every year, thousands of residents of all ages visit the Balboa for screenings of new films and well-curated programming such as music documentaries, classics, and "Popcorn Palace" kids fare! But now they need your help.

The Balboa is raising funds through a Kickstarter campaign so they can upgrade the projection and sound equipment in both of their two auditoriums. It will cost close to $150,000 to do both. They have just raised enough to convert one auditorium, but you can help them reach their stretch goal so they can go all the way. With digital projectors in place, they will be able to keep the Balboa alive offering a modern, first-class movie experience in a classic neighborhood theatre. Plus, they are giving away some great reward incentives. Donate now!

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SPRiNG BREAKERS: Spring Break 4 Ever!!!

Posted by Kelly S. Osato, July 29, 2013 01:02pm | Post a Comment
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Spring Breakers, the name says it all. For all intents and purposes it is the what, when, why, where, and who of Harmoy Korine's latest youth culture thesis -- a 94 minute non-stop Girls Gone Wild-esque Dubstep rager that prudently substitutes a copiousness of style for a seemingly decided lack of dramatic substance, inter-cut with super slo-mo beach bosoms and bottom biscuits jiggling at a hypnotizing rate of frames per second. it doesn't make a much sense, but whatever. It's summertime and this movie rules!

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It seems to me that the real juice of the Spring Breakers fruit has little to do with cautionary tales, innocence lost or questionable actions, but rather it has everything to do with James Franco's cornrows. That is, soaking up the the overall look of the film, which seems to be inspired if not full-on endorsed by Vice Magazine sponsored American Apparel type fad-mongering marketing strategies, is as good as this movie gets.
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It shouldn't go without mentioning, however, that that highly skilled costume designer Heidi Bivens'  hot-neon, day-glo accented beach wear, DTF sweatpants, and pink unicorn ski masks really transport viewers into the hyper-surreal world of Spring Breakers to the point of outmoding the efforts of the aforementioned houses of haute hipsterwares for the trending-now crowd. Indeed, the joint efforts of Bivens and Korine, not to mention the talents of cinematographer Benoît Debie, seem to signify an extremely creatively driven approach to fully realizing this project, but the commercial element Spring Breakers presents is most definitely a fashion force to be reckoned with, whether the message translates as what to buy or what not to buy. For me, I couldn't suppress the urge to indulge in a cinematic marathon of summer fashion features after practically gagging on Spring Breakers.

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