Music Madness No. 2-attachment0

Music Madness No. 2

Movie Information

The Story: A collection of four music-oriented documentary films. The Lowdown: The second week of The Carolina's mini-festival of music documentaries has something for just about everyone: from The Beatles to the Stones to Aretha Franklin to Big Star to a band improbably called Death.
Genre: Rock Music
Director: Various
Starring: The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Big Star, Death
Rated: NR

A Band Called Death Director: Mark Christopher Covino, Jeff Howlett. Players: Bobby Hackney, Dannis Hackney, David Hackney, Alice Cooper While A Band Called Death isn’t the oddest film in the group, it almost certainly boasts the oddest story. If you’ve never heard of the band in question, don’t feel left out. The original group recorded just seven tracks and only ever released one single. That they are now being considered the forerunners to punk music — a few years before there even was such a thing — is remarkable, but not undeserved once you hear their music. What is perhaps more unusual, though, is Death was comprised of three black kids from Detroit — kids who were hooked on The Beatles, The Who, Alice Cooper and Queen rather than Motown. The film straightforwardly tells their story, and, of course, the story of their late-in-the-day discovery by a music world that wasn’t originally interested in them. The music and the personalities of the two surviving brothers are terrific, even if the constant “animating” of still photos gets tiresome and the inclusion of Kid Rock as one of their modern supporters is probably unwise. But really, it’s the story and the music that matters. Director Jeff Howlett will be in attendance for a Q&A at Friday’s show. (Plays at 10:25 p.m.)

Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me Director: Drew Nicola, Olivia Mori. Players: Alex Chilton, Chris Bell, John Auer, Jody Stephens Here’s another chance to catch this documentary on the band Big Star. In his recent review of the film, Justin Souther wrote: “[It] attempts to trace their days as obscure Memphis critical darlings in the ‘70s to the revered, influential band they’re seen as today. This exclusivity is inherent in the material, since it’s a rarity for the Average Joe to love anything as much as a documentary filmmaker, a person who loves something enough to dedicate months and years of their lives to telling its story. On top of this, if you’re already a self-identified Big Star fan, you’ve likely already bought your ticket, and nothing I say about the film will change what you think of the movie, let alone the band. That being said, looked at as filmmaking, Nothing Can Hurt Me is your basic music doc.”  Fans of the band have differed. (Plays at 11 a.m.)

Good Ol’ Freda Director: Ryan White. Players: Freda Kelly, The Beatles Perhaps the centerpiece of this series, Good Ol’ Freda is going to be of greatest interest to Beatle fans — the more hardcore the better. Freda is Freda Kelly, the woman who served as secretary to The Beatles for their entire career and beyond. Two caveats are necessary on the film. First of all, though much has been made of the fact that this is the first indie film to license Beatle songs, it isn’t exactly awash in Beatle tracks. Secondly, if you’re expecting Ms. Kelly to dish any dirt, you’re at the wrong movie. When asked questions about her personal relations with the Fab Four, she merely says that personal matters are just that. About the most shocking she gets is revealing how John broke it to her that their manager, Brian Epstein, was gay. No, this is a sweet little film intended as a gift to fans and a tribute to The Beatles. It is probably the last first-hand account we’re likely to get about watching Beatlemania from the inside. Entertaining and endlessly charming if you’re a fan. (Plays at 1:30 and 6 p.m.)

Muscle Shoals Director: Greg “Freddy” Camalier. Players: Rick Hall, Greg Allman, Bono, Clarence Carter, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards This slick and fairly comprehensive documentary about Rick Hall’s FAME recording studios in Muscle Shoals, Ala., almost certainly has the broadest appeal, if only by virtue of the number of artists and hit songs showcased. It’s another improbable story of the dirt-poor Hall, who became a legendary figure in the music business, and about the all-white musicians known as the Swampers, who helped form the distinctive sound of some of the biggest R&B hits of all time. That it happens to be true is a bonus. That it affords the viewer nearly two hours of impeccable storytelling should be all you need to know. See this movie. (Plays at 3:30 and 8 p.m.)

Starts Friday at Carolina Cinemas

About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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