Categories
Watching

Who Is Harry Nilsson?

Just watched this doc­u­men­tary. Only a hand­ful of artists meet a trag­ic end like this, where their fame endures long after their tal­ent burns out. My old boss at TLA Video, Adri­an Hick­man, used to play Nils­son often at the store. I did­n’t have an ear for it then, but lis­ten­ing to his voice com­plete­ly blew me away. Nils­son was­n’t just a great pop singer/songwriter; the guy was an auteur like Orson Welles, craft­ing a work so dense and poet­ic only to have it undo him.

My favorite part of the doc­u­men­tary? See­ing Nils­son at the height of his fame, par­ty­ing with the Bea­t­les and Elton John. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a pho­to mon­tage as thrilling, laugh­ing mani­a­cal­ly at pho­tos that would make fans of The Hang­over blanch. Watch­ing inter­views with guys like Bri­an Wil­son and Van Dyke Parks gave me a sense that Nils­son was­n’t just some maudlin pop singer, but a guy who was liv­ing every moment to the fullest. Equal­ly impor­tant, he set lofty goals and achieved them. He did it all. He did it fast.

Maybe it’s because I’m get­ting old­er, but artists like Har­ry Nils­son appeal to me more now, just as I find myself appre­ci­at­ing vet­er­an ballplay­ers who are still giv­ing it a go long after they’ve been writ­ten off by con­ven­tion­al wis­dom. Makes you won­der how any artist made it through the ’70s alive. Did­n’t mat­ter if you were punk or posh, chances are you were doing things that did con­sid­er­able harm to your per­son.

Come clean and admit your favorite ’70s rock­ers here. And, yes, you can like the Adverts and X‑Ray Spex and still be total­ly smit­ten with Elton John.

Categories
Watching

Anvil! The Story of Anvil

I know I’m late to the par­ty, but what a fun doc­u­men­tary! I wish I could catch their show at the TLA next week­end.

Anvil! The Sto­ry of Anvil remind­ed me a bit of Amer­i­can Splen­dor, except Har­vey Pekar’s ten­den­cy to accen­tu­ate the neg­a­tive aspects of pub­lic­i­ty are 180 degrees out of phase with Lips’ out­look. Who knows how far they’ll take it, but it’s great to see that they’re cap­i­tal­iz­ing on the film’s suc­cess and get­ting out on the road. It should be a great show!

Categories
Watching

Food Inc.

Want a sure­fire way to bum your­self out on New Year’s Eve? Watch Food Inc.

I’ve scaled back the num­ber of mind-numb­ing­ly depress­ing doc­u­men­taries I’ve watched in the past few years. Too many of them tread the same ter­ri­to­ry, preach to the choir, and fall far short of inform­ing the broad­er pub­lic of the issues at hand. Food Inc. isn’t one of them.

This is a great doc­u­men­tary for any­one who wants to get a basic under­stand­ing of what’s hap­pen­ing in Amer­i­can food pol­i­cy. Let me put it this way: if Upton Sin­clair would­n’t have words to describe the state of the food indus­try. It’s that bad. I def­i­nite­ly rec­om­mend this flick. It’ll make you think twice about how and what you eat.