The Stone Roses were one of the best and most beloved Britpop bands of the early ’90s, helping the dance-influenced Madchester sound of the late ’80s and early ’90s take the British charts by storm with their classic self-titled debut album. In the U.S. their immediate impact was smaller, yet their influence stretched from predecessors like Oasis to more recent bands including Jagwar Ma and Diiv. Their sound, a blend of jangly guitars not unlike those employed by Johnny Marr in The Smiths with dancier beats and psychedelic effects, helped make them NME cover stars at the time, as did the presence of cocky, charismatic frontman Ian Brown, who once declared the band would become “the biggest band ever.” The band's second album failed to take off, and the band broke up in 1996. They reunited in 2012, after 16 years, to headline the Coachella Music and Arts Festival and have even garnered the Twitter ire of one Azealia Banks, as sure a sign as any that the band’s relevance continues today.
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.
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.
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.
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]
|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!