Movie Mondays ~ Monday, October 28, 2019

Movie Mondays ~ Monday, October 28, 2019

 

Back with more film reviews in honor of #MovieMondays, but this time, I’ve got not one but two films to feature! How’s that for finally getting past the onesies, huh? Of course, they’re still all documentaries because they’re like maple syrup for me — pour it on! One thing that both of these documentaries have in common is I’ve been wanting to see them for a while and finally, I am getting around to it…and in the same week! Woohoo! They are also both about pop culture-related subjects (well, obviously — you do remember who’s on the other end watching this stuff, right?) Anyway, as always, thanks in advance for reading. ~ Chris K.

 

FILMS VIEWED WEEK OF 10/21/2019 – 10/27/2019

 *click on the photos to enlarge them

 

 

102. For the Love of Spock

Documentary, Biography (2016)
Karl Urban, J.J. Abrams, Chris Pine, Jim Parsons, Simon Pegg, Zoe Saldana, Zachary Quinto, George Takai, William Shatner

 

 

I honestly thought I had watched this documentary before, but if so, I was clearly not paying any attention the first time around because I didn’t remember any of it and learned so much about actor Leonard Nimoy as well as early Star Trek history with plenty of behind-the-scenes anecdotal nuggets about Nimoy that truly tell more about a person than lengthy interviews do sometimes.

This documentary was released shortly after Nimoy’s death and what drew me to it aside from the general subject matter was the narrator – his son Adam. It is a very personal film, one in which a son shares not only what day to day life is like living with a once little-known character actor who quickly becomes a TV sensation, but also what it is like living with that man when he steps inside the house and leaves the fans on the doorstep. Early on, we gather that he had struggled a little with his own relationship with his father and for this reason, we see him and Adam constantly working at building and rebuilding that relationship after fallouts.

One very interesting bit of entertainment info that I never knew (particularly since I wasn’t actually around when the first airing of “Star Trek” filled the NBC weekly prime-time lineup) — apparently, after the show gained some steam, it was Nimoy not Shatner who garnered the most chatter and popularity. In fact, the topic of Nimoy’s popularity eclipsing that of his leading man William Shatner comes up in a recollection of Shatner’s as he discusses how Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry pulled him aside one day while shooting to explain that his co-star’s unexpected exploding popularity ultimately meant assurance of Shatner’s own popularity as well as the show’s, so therefore, Roddenberry reasoned,  these were a win for everybody on the set. Shatner says all it took was that one conversation to accept that he had a more popular co-star and get behind him wholeheartedly.

I especially enjoyed hearing from the many people influenced by the show, some you might not expect who can recite entire soliloquies by the Trek characters — actors like Jason Alexander, Simon Pegg and Jim Parsons. I loved the way the film takes us through Nimoy’s journey as a young man, an aspiring actor and then throughout the Star Trek phenomenon in the beginning and many years later. While it does remind us of the various films he directed, I think more time could have been spent on Nimoy’s style as a director — maybe either some archived interviews of actors talking about what it’s like taking direction from him or selected specifically for this documentary to discuss the filming experience. I recall hearing many positive things at the time of his early films he directed, but I felt like this might have been brushed over a little too quickly.

Overall though, I appreciated people who knew him best sharing personal stories that highlighted the kind of man Nimoy was, whether it was standing up for co-stars Nichelle Nichols and George Takei not initially cast in a new Saturday morning animated version of the Star Trek TV series or his son and daughter reflecting on special intimate conversations or outings that brought them closer with their dad.  This is an absolute must-see for Trekkers and pop culture and TV fans who will appreciate it even if they are not necessarily Star Trek viewers.

Score: 89

 

 

ForTheLoveOfSpock

 

 

 

 

103. Echo in the Canyon

Documentary, Music (2018)
Tom Petty, Jakob Dylan, Lou Adler, Fiona Apple, Jackson Browne, Ringo Starr, David Crosby, Roger McGuinn

 

 

This is yet another documentary that I could not wait to see after learning of its existence, because it’s also apparently the last documented lengthy footage of Tom Petty being interviewed before his death in October 2017. He chats quite a bit throughout the film with its narrator and lead interviewer none other than Jakob Dylan of The Wallflowers. (Oh, and yeah, he’s also the son of that little known folk rock icon Bob Dylan, too…) The documentary tracks the path of a musical movement that took place in Southern California, a movement that ended up drawing musicians from across the country to help give birth to a new folk-infused rock and roll California-tinged sound of the 60s led by artists such as The Byrds, Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys, Buffalo Springfield, The Mamas & the Papas and others.

I’m impressed. It must be quite the handy access card to be a Dylan because he talks to so many greats — a Beach Boy, a Beatle, a few Byrds, the lone surviving Mama, as well as Stephen Stills, Graham Nash, Eric Clapton and of course, that delightful and insightful Mr. Petty himself. (Look for an appearance by a guitar-jamming Neil Young when you least expect it…)

Dylan also joins forces with artists of his generation including Beck, Fiona Apple, Norah Jones and others as they not only talk about the influence of this music that came in most cases 30 years before their own work but we also get to hear modern takes on these classics as performed by them. I have to be honest: I wasn’t knocked out by most of the remakes with one exception — Beck and Dylan offer up a fierce rendition of the Byrds’  “I’m Going Back” that’s worth a listen. Beyond that, I didn’t really enjoy most of the newly sung tunes. (Sorry to those newer artists, many for whom I’ve downloaded singles on streaming services or bought entire albums like Jones, Apple and The Wallflowers. Sigh. They just don’t capture the essence of the music they’re gushing over and that I love so much.Aah well…)

But the film is really interesting for music fans, and especially if these are artists you already enjoy and may not know much about their origins (that would describe me to a T). I went into the film an existing fan and with the exception of the Beach Boys, didn’t really know a lot about the other groups and how they met up with each other or burst onto the scene. I only knew how much I loved their music and still do.  This is a winner.

Score: 87

 

EchoInTheCanyon

 

 

 

 

 

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  1. Movie Mondays ~ Monday, November 4, 2019 | Chris Kuhn Author - […] example, the last music documentary I watched ECHO IN THE CANYON, which I reviewed here last week. (Click here …

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