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PostPosted: Mon Jun 06, 2005 6:50 pm 
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I know these are two separate beasts but I'm curious how both concert films and music videos stack up against other forms of cinema. There are a few places on this forum that touches on the subject, namely the few Criterion and Palm Pictures releases, but they focus exlusively on the individual releases and not the 'genre" itself.

Although I would enjoy a list of "must-have" concert films and music video collections, I know this is not the place for that (if there is such a place, though, please direct me. thanks).

Rather, I am interested in why so many narrative film directors have directed concert films. How it is that music videos have changed narrative and documentary films' aesthetic yet the concert film seems relatively unchanged over the last couple of decades? The packaging and distribution issue for music videos have also evolved while the concert film seems to be dying off. Where are the concert films in theaters? Does Some Kind of Monster fulfill similar criteria as The Last Waltz or Wattstax? What of DVDs bundling of concert footage ("films?") with music videos and documentary suppliments (thinking specifically of Tenacious D's Masterworks set)? Are the narratives/stories/songs presented by musicians performing on stage more or less effective than a music video or adapting the song to a film short? Would Fantasia and Koyanisquatsi belong with Weezer and Frank Zappa?

There are many other areas of exploration within this "genre" of cinema. Are there any critical explorations that exist already? Where would we start? I know I get excited listening to great music. I also get excited when I can see engaging visuals that complement said music, and often times that 5 minute combination is more powerful and long-lasting in my memory than many movies.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 07, 2005 4:50 am 

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Some that come to immediate mind are....

One Plus One ( as interpreted by Jean Luc Goddard)
Cocksucker Blues (Rolling Stones as interpreted by director Robert Frank)
Traffic...live at Santa Monica CA (as directed by Taylor Hackford)
Born To Boogie (as directed by Ringo Starr)


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 07, 2005 12:17 pm 
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Off the top of my head, 10 must-see rock concert films/docs:

Don't Look Back (Bob Dylan/D.A. Pennebaker)
Gimme Shelter (Rolling Stones/Maysles Brothers)
Stop Making Sense (Talking Heads/Jonathan Demme)
The Kids Are Alright (The Who/Jeff Stein)
X: The Unheard Music (X/W.T. Morgan)
The Decline of Western Civilization (Various/Penelope Spheeris)
Let It Be (The Beatles/Michael Lindsay-Hogg)
Half Japanese: The Band That Would Be King (Half Japanese/Jeff Feurzeig)
Rust Never Sleeps (Neil Young/"Bernard Shakey")
MC5 - A True Testimonial (MC5/David C. Thomas)


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 10, 2005 9:47 am 

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Courtesy of billboard.com....

Quote:
Edited By Jonathan Cohen. June 08, 2005, 3:45 PM ET

Young, Demme Collaborating On Concert Film

By Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.

Although details are still under wraps, singer/songwriter Neil Young will be the subject of a concert film to be taped in August at Nashville's Grand Ole Opry, Billboard.com has learned. The as-yet-untitled project will be directed by Jonathan Demme ("The Silence of the Lambs," "Philadelphia").

As previously reported, Young has been recording a new album in Nashville with such collaborators as keyboardist Spooner Oldham, pedal steel guitarist Ben Keith and drummer Carl Himmel. A release date for the set is unconfirmed.

The album is the follow-up to Young's 2003 effort "Greendale," which was augmented by a feature-length film bringing to life the characters in the songs.

As for Demme, he previously dabbled in the concert movie medium with the 1984 Talking Heads project "Stop Making Sense," which spawned a hit accompanying album.

Sounds interesting...maybe Demme, if ANYONE, can harness all of that pomposity of Young's films projects...he is too "WAY out there" for my taste but I keep trying him, hoping.


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 10, 2005 9:55 am 

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Just recently officially released "Great Rock and Roll Swindle" by Julien Temple...very unrecognized using many media elements in it's presentation.


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 10, 2005 11:21 am 
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If you like the British rock band Radiohead, then you ought to check out their two dvd releases:

7 Television Commercials is a compilation of the music videos from their albums The Bends and OK Computer. The video for "Just," directed by Jamie Thraves, is rightly considered one of the best music videos ever made -- largely because it's a near-perfect 5-minute short film in its own right. Jonathan Glazer directed two of the other videos.

Meeting People Is Easy is a weird "concert" documentary made by Grant Gee -- "weird" in that you never see more than about 30 seconds of any individual concert. Really, it's more of critique of rock-music celebrity seen through Radiohead's eyes at the height of their "savior-of-rock" status (1997-98). I find it fascinating (though I admit I'm a huge fan of Radiohead), but anyone interested in experimental filmmaking ought to check it out.

One caveat: If you already find Radiohead and Thom Yorke pretentious, then Meeting People Is Easy will only confirm that belief. But I still think that, if you're interested in music videos as art, you definitely must study Radiohead's videos.


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 10, 2005 11:46 am 
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filmfan wrote:
Sounds interesting...maybe Demme, if ANYONE, can harness all of that pomposity of Young's films projects...he is too "WAY out there" for my taste but I keep trying him, hoping.


Years ago I mentioned to a friend that had worked on Neil's Human Highway that I had bought a copy (on laserdisc!), and he apologized and practically offered to personally reimburse me. Told me how he'd argue on set with Neil about his scriptwriting method wherein he and Dean Stockwell would write the script every night before the next day's shooting. "But that's how Chaplin did it," Neil would say, and my friend, shaking his head, would reply "You... are not... Charlie Chaplin..."


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 10, 2005 11:57 am 
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tryavna wrote:
If you like the British rock band Radiohead, then you ought to check out their two dvd releases:

7 Television Commercials is a compilation of the music videos from their albums The Bends and OK Computer. The video for "Just," directed by Jamie Thraves, is rightly considered one of the best music videos ever made -- largely because it's a near-perfect 5-minute short film in its own right.


I'll second that motion. Say what you will about music videos in general (I've made a number of them and I'm sure I'd still agree with you), but that one, directed by Jamie Thraves, is a mini-masterpiece (has anyone here seen his apparently Cassavetes-inspired The Low Down? Worth a look?). It's a like a whole Twilight Zone episode in 03:54.


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 10, 2005 12:40 pm 
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Quote:
I'm curious how both concert films and music videos stack up against other forms of


What do you mean by stack up? Do you mean whether there are concert films and music videos that are as good as say Citizen Kane or [insert random 'classic' movie] or whether there are limitations or characteristics in concert films or music videos that separate them from other forms entirely?

Quote:
Rather, I am interested in why so many narrative film directors have directed concert films


I don't think very many narrative film directors have directed concert films, I guess it depends on what you mean by many. Also, I think if anything it's the other way around, with concert and music video directors moving into feature or narrative film making.

Quote:
How it is that music videos have changed narrative and documentary films' aesthetic yet the concert film seems relatively unchanged over the last couple of decades?


Have music videos had any kind of effect on the aesthetic of documentary films? I think that one reason, that music videos haven't changed concert films, is because the concert film is basically a document of the concert, if a musical artist wanted to make a music video, they would make a music video, not a concert film, I think that the concert film and the music video are just two different things, meant to perform two different functions. The music video I pairs visuals with the song, whereas the concert film reproduces the experience of the concert... often times not very well.

I think concert films are dying off, because concerts, if I'm not mistaken are dying off too. If people aren't willing to pay for concert tickets or cds, they're not going to buy music on dvds or pay to see it in a theater.

Maybe it would be helpful if you could provide some examples to help illustrate your points. Unfortunately, I really tend to hate music videos in general and I'm not familiar with any written material on the subject, but to answer your point about the impression that some of these videos make... I think any great art, whether its universal or personal, probably makes an impression on a person. I don't want to say that certain artworks have changed my reality, but I would say that certain movies, books and music have made very big impressions on me. I can't think of a music video that has, but it's certainly possible. After all if words+pictures (comics) can be art, then I don't see why music+moving images can't be art too, but I wouldn't say that music videos have anything inherent in them, that makes them more memorable than films.


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 10, 2005 8:26 pm 
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Ack! Three of the four most magnificent concert films I've ever seen have yet to be mentioned (back to that in a second). What's more surprising, though, is that no one has noted that a truly great concert film (as opposed to the music video) tends to be a reflection of the musician(s) as opposed to the filmmaker. Even the great Stop Making Sense (one of my four top-o-the-heaps, and the only one previously cited) is far more David Byrne's vision than Jonathan Demme's (of course Byrne's a filmmaker in his own right, regardless of what you might think of True Stories).

My other three titles demonstrate this clearly, and stand as masterpieces (at least for me) of the form. And I would vociferously disagree with who is bobby dylan's claim that "concert films are dying off." In fact, dvd has tended to elevate the form recently, so that we now have such wonderful concert footage items as:

Brian Wilson Presents Smile (2005, Brian Wilson and the Brian Wilson Band, directed by John Anderson) - a glorious Event, if for no other reason than we can finally hear what Brian really intended after 35 years of being the greatest rock album never released. This show belongs to Brian and his heavenly band. David Leaf's fascinating documentary, Beautiful Dreamer is a great bonus, beautifully constructed, but definitely slanted in its presentation. Although the concert is on disk 2, it's really the whole point of this thing for us. I'll return to the concert again and again, despite the fact that the camera refuses to linger anywhere -- the editing is atrocious; I'll probably never watch Leaf's documentary again. There's an almost equally absorbing companion disk, Brian Wilson Presents Pet Sounds, released in 2003.

Lil' Beethoven Live in Stockholm (2005, Sparks, "Filmed, Edited and Produced by Dash Productions, Ltd, UK") - okay, Sparks is (are?) definitely an acquired taste, and Lil' Beethoven is the single malt to Sparks general scotch, a taste to be acquired only if you can take the most idiosyncratic 35-year-old band on the planet. This is Ron and Russell Mael's show all the way (as is virtually all of Sparks' music), but it's like nothing you've ever heard before. Ron's traded in his Hitler moustache for a pencil-thin model, but otherwise it's pure Sparks, and absolute genius once you get past the apparently repetitive lyrics, which retain Ron's scalpel-to-cleaver wit. Brother Russell's voice is just as powerful and unique as it ever was.

Oingo Boingo Farewell (1996, Oingo Boingo, no director listed but "Executive Producer" is, of course, Danny Elfman, who certainly understands film) - Oingo Boingo were always a great show, but steadfastly refused to allow anyone to film any of their concerts until this final one. What a treat! A Halloween Valentine to OB's many dedicated fans (among which I number myself), this concert captures the magic of one of the most intense bands and individual performers on the planet. Of these four personal "greats", this one generates -- by far -- the most electricity and energy. perhaps because Elfman and bandmate John Avila are simply brilliant performers. I don't think there's a single image that captures what rock and roll is, and has been, all about, better than the sight of Elfman grabbing Avila's foot and dragging him around the stage while Avila continues to thunder out his joyous bass lying on his back.

One of the most notable commonalities of these four concert films (I include Stop Making Sense) is that three of them virtually never cut to the audience, while the fourth (Oingo Boingo), uses audience shots very sparingly. I maintain that the concert film is alive and well, thanks to the lil' (yes, a deliberate misplacement of the 'pos') silver disk. These four put yer Maylses, yer Demmes, yer Pennebakers, and yer Scorseses (their concert films anyway) to shame!


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 10, 2005 11:21 pm 
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Quote:
Rather, I am interested in why so many narrative film directors have directed concert films.


The flippant, bur probably most correct, response - cause they really want to be rock stars but are too ugly for the job. The great rock films are normally made by fans or friends of the group or artist, so they can take the benefits of free riders, lazy hours and hangin' out with groupies. Just look at Scorsese in the mid-70s - he was able to live out his rock n' roll fantasy by latching onto The Band. It wasn't until the early 90s that the tables turned, and being a director was the cool job.

Quote:
I maintain that the concert film is alive and well, thanks to the lil' (yes, a deliberate misplacement of the 'pos') silver disk.


Maybe, but not as we once knew it. The concert film was a staple of the midnight showings at rep cinemas, where it was the only chance for many fans to see the actual bands, especially in faraway lands. Rocky Horror, Blues Bros., Eraserhead, all the John Waters, played for years on double-bills with your Zappa, Pink Floyd, Stones, Bowie, Neil Young, Abba etc. You could load up on your favourite beverage, play some pool, pick up your intimate, then head out and see The Cure in Orange (personal fav. pick) on a huge screen in Dolby Digital with a few hundred others. Many would even dress up and dance in the aisles. You'd then stagger home with 6-in-a-cab, hoping to find your keys in time. Within a couple of months, you would do it again, and it would be a different experience. Glory days now lost thanks to the monotonous beauty of home cinema and 5.1 amplification. (Seriously, I'd struggle to find anything more boring than sitting at home watching a concert film on TV, with the exception of DEVO, naturally.)


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 11, 2005 12:07 am 
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filmfan wrote:
Courtesy of billboard.com....

Edited By Jonathan Cohen. June 08, 2005, 3:45 PM ET

Young, Demme Collaborating On Concert Film


By Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.

As for Demme, he previously dabbled in the concert movie medium with the 1984 Talking Heads project "Stop Making Sense," which spawned a hit accompanying album.

http://www.billboard.com/bb/daily/artic ... 1000953563


Sounds interesting...maybe Demme, if ANYONE, can harness all of that pomposity of Young's films projects...he is too "WAY out there" for my taste but I keep trying him, hoping.


Demme shot an extended music video for Young before, too. It was called THE COMPLEX SESSIONS and featured four songs peformed live in the studio with Crazy Horse from the SLEEPS WITH ANGELS album. Notable for its 15-or-so-minute take on "Change Your Mind."

I just watched "Festival Express," new to DVD, and it's a nice second-cousin to Monterey Pop and Woodstock. Definitely worth checking out if you're into the Dead, the Band or Janis Joplin.

Another music doc out next week that I'm really curious to see is "The Nomi Song."

I also recommend "Dig!" and "Jandek on Corwood."


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 11, 2005 12:21 am 
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What did anyone think of the new release of The Great Rock N' Roll Swindle? I've been thinking of buying it.


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 11, 2005 1:32 pm 
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I had a weird revelation yesterday as I finally got around to listening to the commentary track for Synapse's dvd release of Triumph of the Will. (Not that I particularly recommend that commentary track -- too much narration of what we see and not enough discussion of Riefenstahl's cinematic techniques. Though his identification of high-ranking Nazis was valuable.)

As I was watching the images again, I began to realize that much of the language of concert films comes from the techniques Riefenstahl pioneered in TotW: the "invisible" camera moving around freely to "document" an event, the attempt to convey the emotion rather than the content of that event, the use of montage to establish a strong relationship between the god-like performer and the adoring audience members, etc.

So if you want to see a fascinating "concert film" -- even though there's no rock music or even a band as such -- you should definitely add Triumph of the Will to the list.

(BTW, I hope I'm not being too provocative or glib here. I definitely don't mean to say that I agree with Riefenstahl's attempt to glorify Hitler. Rather, I'm just noting the fact that real concert films I've seen seem to borrow heavily from Riefenstahl -- perhaps without knowing it.)


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 12, 2005 2:42 pm 
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Looks like i watched Triumph with commentary day before you did. Coincidence. I agree with what you are saying about cinematic language per Leni here. It is definitely a performance film. Much more challenging than filming Guns n Roses or The Band I'd have to say.

P.S. I enjoyed the commentary. The guy even had a sense of humor but you are right: there is really nothing there pertaining to Leni's technique. Entirely focused on historical context and cast of characters...and their fates.


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 17, 2005 5:18 pm 
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I got Duran Duran's Arena only a couple of weeks ago. A great example of how weird and interesting music-movie-making could get in the eighties. :shock:


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 19, 2005 8:36 am 

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AMB wrote:
What did anyone think of the new release of The Great Rock N' Roll Swindle? I've been thinking of buying it.



ESSENTIAL...whether you like them as a music group or not.

It's an assault on your sensibilities, never dull, and memorable for just the Sid Viscious rendition of "My Way".


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 19, 2005 1:04 pm 
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'Fred Frith - Step Across The Border' - a 90 minute celluloid improvisation by Nicolas Humbert & Werner Penzel.
Highly recommended; especially if you like Fred's music!

Incidentally, has anyone seen the recent Magic Band (minus Beefheart of course) DVD. Any reports?


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 23, 2005 10:01 pm 
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My question is, why aren't there any DVDs of either Tom Waits or Laurie Anderson? "Big Time" isn't available, is it? (I think it only exists on VHS). And there's probably nobody more worthy of a DVD than Laurie Anderson. I hope that SOMETHING is on the horizon; I don't care what it is.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 23, 2005 11:04 pm 
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"Big Time" isn't available, is it?


Sounds like a job for Criterion...


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 23, 2005 11:05 pm 
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Subbuteo wrote:
Incidentally, has anyone seen the recent Magic Band (minus Beefheart of course) DVD. Any reports?


Haven't seen it myself yet, but so far reports from Beefheart-manaic friends have been positive. More info here.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 29, 2005 11:52 am 
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No, no one has mentioned Madonna's concert/film. In fact, with a few exceptions, most of the films discussed have been rock films. Among my favorite concert films are:

Jessye Norman Live at Lincoln Center: Women of Legend, Fantasy and Lore (1994)
Bob Marley at The Santa Barbara Bowl (1979 great dvd info link)
Diana Ross Live at Caesar's Palace (the 1979 HBO Concert (the first live HBO concert, btw))
Woodstock ('69 - The Full Version)
Sade Love Deluxe Tour (1994, not the most recent one)


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 29, 2005 12:23 pm 
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There is footage out of some of the original Wall shows Pink Floyd put on in 80-81. It was envisioned originally to be used as part of the theatrical film, but was eventually scrapped.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 22, 2005 1:57 pm 
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Music videos came up in the Lists Project Thread recently, and it seems like some "this videos great," "so is this one," "all those suck" kind of dialog might actually be useful for people working on lists. Not to mention make for interesting discussion. For myself, I'm hoping to refresh a little on the 1980s. This seemed like a good place for such a thing.

A roommate of mine, who was prone to hyperbole, once stated that Michel Gondry's Bjork videos were the best music videos he'd ever seen. Certainly they're extremely impressive, and they're probably the ones I return to the most. If I recall, he did "Isobel," "Hyperballad," and "Bachelorette," which are all terrific. "Bachelorette" in particular is a personal fave.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 22, 2005 5:02 pm 
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backstreetsbackalright wrote:
A roommate of mine, who was prone to hyperbole, once stated that Michel Gondry's Bjork videos were the best music videos he'd ever seen.

Gondry's video for Cibo Matto's Sugar Water is one of my all-time personal faves. You can watch it online here but you'll miss a lot of the details that make it so brilliant.


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