Fantasia is exactly how I remember it. A drowsy opening, some pretty business, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, some more neat stuff, then the conductor announces the halfway point and I fall asleep, only waking up for the Night On Bald Mountain segment and the closing credits.

I guess the animation purists love it, but I just find it a pleasant excuse for a nap. Sorry!

Joaquin “Lucius Hunt” Phoenix is a Johnny Cash impersonator and Reese “Tracy Flick” Witherspoon is this girl who likes him.

Plays like a bullet-point list of Cash’s early career turned into a movie. Right when I said “I thought “cry cry cry” was his first single, not the folsom song”, someone introduces Joaquin by saying “here’s johnny cash, whose new single ‘cry cry cry’ is burning up the charts” or some such thing. So a series of facts mixed with re-enactments of famous events and made-up scenes and dialogue = an uncomplicated biopic of a man whose complicated life deserved better.

Amusing cameos by a decent Jerry Lee Lewis, a totally unconvincing Elvis and a very convincing Waylon Jennings (played by Shooter Jennings). T-1000 plays the judgemental father, and Madge from Prophecy III: The Ascent plays music legend Mother Maybelle Carter, the whole thing lovingly assembled by the esteemed director of Kate & Leopold. Five oscar nominations and three golden globes don’t lie! This is a class act.

Katy loves it.

Katy would not have liked it. Not sure that I liked it. But at least I watched it, and now I don’t have to watch it again.

Details so that I won’t have to watch it again:
– Ringo Starr doing a fake interview show dressed as Frank Zappa
– Zappa on drums once, guitar a few times, but mostly absent
– the main guys bouncing delightedly through the movie were Flo & Eddie (?)
– some kind of devil/tempter keeps offering people dumb stuff if they’ll sign in blood
– groupie girls show up from time to time
– ten-minute animated dentist duck segment right in the middle
– Jimmy Carl Black sang “Lonesome Cowboy Burt”
– most of the music/concert scenes were really good
– lots of video (not film: video) effects. Lots. LOTS.
– some kind of druggachusetts episode where the effects were just off the hook

Not a “good” movie by any means, but interesting to see what those guys were up to. Will have to check out the footage from Uncle Meat sometimes, cuz that’s another double album that never made much sense.

Addendum March ’07: after seeing parts of this movie again while working on the DVD project, I like it a lot more. The music, the centerville segment, the endless self-referentiality of it all work together well. Gotta cut it some slack too, after watching the doc and reading about the mess of a production it turned out to be. I even like the soundtrack better now.

Katy picked this out. I liked it, maybe better than either of Luhrmann’s other movies, but still wish we’d watched Henry & June instead.

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Scott wants to dance his own wild made-up steps at the ballroom dance competition but everyone tells him he’s being selfish and stupid and will ruin everything. His own partner goes off with the fancypants guy, and then the fancy guy is dancing with the superstar super girl. Now Scott needs to audition a partner and quick. In comes Fran, dance student at Scott’s parents’ studio who wants to dance Scott’s steps at the competition, and has a few of her own to contribute. A happy ending is had by all. Even though most of the movie looks like it was filmed in a gymnasium, it still manages to look great the whole time. The dancing not so impressive, even the big finale, but at least it’s well presented.

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Prince (“The Kid”) has a dad who was a great musician and who likes to beat women. Like father, like son. Prince’s slot performing at First Ave is in danger because the slimy club owner and the slimier Morris Day want to replace him with a girl group – and Prince’s own band members are threatening revolution (hyuck) cuz he won’t play the songs they wrote. What will Prince do?! Not learn to be nice to people, and not stop his dad from killing himself, but he does turn his band members’ demo into the groovy title song, so there’s that. Movie scores points for music, costumes, Prince’s motorcycle, and hot nudity, but loses a lot to dialogue, plot and acting. A concert film (with hot nudity) would’ve been a better idea.

Better musicians have died from car accidents than from drugs, guns or suicide. The Minutemen… Silkworm… Brainiac… think about it.

Minutemen

Cool movie. Learned a lot. Forgot most of it by now, a month later, but what can you do? The band I admire most is now either the Minutemen or Half Japanese, depending on whose documentary I watched most recently. Their chapter in “Our Band Could Be Your Life” was exactly the same as this documentary, except without all the celebrity interviews.

03

I see why reviewers complained that this movie was too long. We learn little about Evelyn Glennie in the way of facts, background, future, profession. There’s little dialogue. There’s little character development! And the director takes that little bit, what very little he has, and stretches it out to 100 minutes, what could have been a 60, or hey, 30 minute featurette. The nerve of that self-important German to make a theatrical feature without enough support!

Actually that’s how I feel about Control Room and The Yes Men… movies that tried to tell a story without enough support. These reviewers would love Touching The Void, to name another creative documentary with a similar title… that one has a long story to tell, full of suspense, and the movie lasts as long as the story. Touch The Sound isn’t narratively driven, and is meant to be enjoyed through sound and vision. If you can’t enjoy such a gorgeous movie as this, why are you watching movies? And if the story has stopped moving forward and you’ve learned all you need to know (“she’s a talented musician who is nearly deaf”), why not leave the theater early? Because you’re a newspaper reviewer being forced to watch this as a job, I guess. My point just being that the reason I don’t let newspaper reviewers determine what movies I see is that they so often seem to be watching movies as a job and not enjoying what they see. A person who can’t appreciate movies as art can write no film criticism that matters.

02

I oughtta be talking about the film though, a perfect-ten picture. Amazing sound, amazing story, unbelievable photography and editing. “Visual poetry”, says the trailer. I could tell it was shot on film, somehow, even watching on DVD. It was “Super 16mm”, whatever that is. He switches to different angles while the soundtrack is constant, notably during the CD recording scenes… multiple cameras, or editing trickery? I was conscious of the movie as a movie, of the making-of, but not distractingly so. Lots of close-ups of waves in lakes, oceans, one exquisite shot of a long white line reflected in a pool when the waves start from one end, rippling along the line, forming “sound waves” to match the audio on the soundtrack. Another moment when Evelyn narrates about people having their own sound, and being able to play different people like an instrument… while Riedelscheimer shoots a sort of ski-lift with people in individual cars crisscrossing on suspended wires… notes on a staff! Clever man. This movie and Rivers And Tides should be watched annually. Hope Thomas doesn’t make too many more movies, or I’ll run out of time to watch anything else.

04

Fred Frith seems like a pretty cool guy, too. I’ll have to see him if he ever plays around here.

01

In the making-of, while they show Thomas completely fabricating shots in the Cologne airport, he says “I think reality exists only in the moment of perception. It’s a live, first-hand experience. One cannot reproduce or film it. It’s a personal experience, which is nontransferable. And I think it’s wrong to say that documentaries are objective. They are as much an expression of a very personal view as any other creative work.” Funny, I was just writing about that two days ago.