Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Intriguing Music Films at 2010 Tribeca Film Festival

Above: Andy Serkis stars as late punk rocker Ian Dury in the biopic "sex & drugs & rock & roll."

The annual Tribeca Film Festival opens today (or tomorrow, officially) and as usual there's an interesting assortment of music-related films. As a TFF volunteer, I'm hoping to see free screenings of some of these movies in between my shifts. Here are some of the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival music films that I'm most interested in seeing.

"sex & drugs & rock & roll" stars Andy Serkis as the late British punk rock singer Ian Dury, best known for his wacky songs "Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick," "Reasons to Be Cheerful, Part 3," and of course "Sex and Drugs and Rock & Roll." 

I've been a fan of Dury since my days as a college radio DJ, when I played those and other songs by Dury and his band, The Blockheads. I didn't know anything about his battle with polio or the effects his musical success had on his life, so I definitely want to catch this movie. 

After first hearing Serge Gainsbourg's songs a decade ago, I've become fascinated with his life and career. "Gainsbourg, Je t'Aime... Moi Non Plus" examines the French crooner's life, from his youth in wartime Paris to his emergence as a provocative, sometimes scandalous cultural figure in the wild 1960s. Gainsbourg is best known for his breathy, erotic duets with his wife, British actress Jane Birkin, and with Brigitte Bardot (with whom Gainsbourg had an affair).

Another feature film that sounds interesting is "The Last Play at Shea." The TFF description got my attention: "The intersecting histories of a stadium, a team, and a music legend are examined in a documentary that charts the ups and downs of the New York Mets and the life and career of Long Island native Billy Joel, the last performer to play Shea Stadium." The film includes concert footage and interviews with Joel and guests as diverse as Tony Bennett and Roger Daltrey. 

"Straight Outta L.A." is another film that examines the intersection of music and sports, in this case between rapper Ice Cube (who directed the film) and the Los Angeles Raiders (who were previously, and are now, the Oakland Raiders). Ice Cube's pioneering group N.W.A. "embraced the Raiders' image, swagger, and style, forever linking the Raiders' heyday in L.A. with the emergence of gangsta rap," says the TFF description. 

The film was produced with or by ESPN, which probably explains its short running time of 51 minutes.

"Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage" looks at the four-decade career of the Canadian rock band, from its beginnings in Toronto to popular, if not critical, success. The film is said to include backstage footage and interviews with musicians including Gene Simons of Kiss, Kirk Hammett of Metallica, and Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins.

As for fictional music films at Tribeca, "My Own Love Song" caught my eye. Besides being directed by Olivier Dahan, who won Oscars for his Edith Piaf biopic "La Vie en Rose," this road movie stars one of my favorite actresses, Renée Zellweger, as a wheelchair-bound ex-musician who is convinced to make a cross-country journey by an "endearing oddball" (played by Forest Whitaker). The cast also includes Nick Nolte.

There are more music films, including a number of shorts that look interesting. See the full lineup of 2010 Tribeca Film Festival music films here. 

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