Love and Mercy

Love and Mercy

Look, I love a good biopic. I always have. For me, well-done biopics merge with Actual History in a blender in my brain: memories of The Doors (film, books, internet, Feast of Friends, that one reunion tour) are interspersed with scenes from The Doors; photographs and albums that house the memory of Johnny Cash get tangled up with flashes of Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon. I think, having always been some sort of a writer, that my brain likes to be told stories in one fell swoop, postcards and faded photographs in a shoebox to touch and smell and fill in the spaces between views. With all this said, I had high expectations for this weekend’s visit to the movies for Love & Mercy, and I’m happy to report back that it did not disappoint.

I can’t recall a time in recent history when I’ve sat through a film, got to the end, and wanted to have the theater to myself for a second viewing immediately following. Love & Mercy is so intimate, so painful, so intense, and so joyous all at once — I laughed, grieved, was completely deflated and found absolute hope all in the span of two-ish hours spent in the back of the theater. Impeccable acting and intensely personal subject matter merged with golden timing to deliver what is by far the movie of the year for me — and as somewhat of a superfan, I’d even venture to say that casual fans of the Beach Boys / Brian Wilson would enjoy it just as much.

Five stars / four thumbs up / all the awards there are to give.

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heaven adores you

heaven adores you

While heaven adores you was not the best documentary ever to see the light of day, I’m super grateful for the attempt by the filmmakers to put a chronology of Smith’s adult life together, stitching into a quilt all the pieces of footage floating haphazard on the internet, long slow pans of locations in Portland and New York and Los Angeles beneath interviews and all those perfect songs.

What I’m left with this morning is “Happiness” on repeat, the urge to seek out old friends I’ve broken bonds with to mend our fences, and a gentle reminder to call your mom.

Montage of Heck

Montage of Heck

So, I went to see Montage of Heck last night and I’m still trying to sort out how I feel. On one hand, there were elements that worked REALLY well, moments that were profoundly (and uncomfortably) intimate, and I felt like the combination of interviews / recordings / home movies provided a lot of insight.

However, I think I would have preferred there to be like, 30% less reliance on the notebook imagery and in place of it, more… substance, maybe via a wider variety of interviews? There was so much to it, and not enough, all at once. I left unsettled, and I’m sitting here this morning with a space in my gut I can’t quite reconcile, which makes me glad I went as a ticketholder (vs. press) — I have no clue how I’d ever be able to write an objective review about any of this.

On that note, kudos to Sean Nelson for doing such a good job conveying All The Things in a way I don’t think I could ever begin to touch.

David Nixon: Bladfold

David Nixon: Bladfold

New Media, for me at least, currently feels akin to a wave of highly concentrated, wholly mediocre ‘art’ that’s being delivered in shiny, small-batch, test-marketed packages. It’s gotten to the point where it all looks the same, and some of it even sounds the same, which all forms the perfect storm to leave me in a state of intake fatigue. And so I find myself unable to devote time and energy to even engaging with New Media of late, as much as I’d like to try. With a yearn to experience good art, and without the energy left to invest, I mean — why listen to a garbage album when you can hit shuffle on your folder of Elliott Smith records? I rest my case.

Enter Bladfold.

From the casual notice of a screening to the first moments in the flickering light of the dark theater, I was hooked. Hand-assembled and crafted with care, work like David Nixon’s Bladfold is exactly what’s missing in my world these days. Honest and expressive, it’s one of those true diamonds in the rough, but the kind that’s best left in a raw state — more accurately, the proverbial penny in the diamond mine — seemingly custom-crafted to restore my faith in all things artistic. Much like the bulk of what “Awesome” is prone to deliver, this short film is a hybrid of glorious storytelling, a brilliantly quirky score, and a vulnerability-cum-bravery that’s practically untouchable.

Bladfold hasn’t played outside of a few small screenings, one of which I had the good fortune to attend last month, but hopefully it will find it’s way out to some festivals or bigger showings later this year. In the meantime, here’s a taste: