What’s on: Nashville Film Festival!
Special from “Our Man in Nashville” Jason T Sparks
This year’s Nashville Film Festival will see somewhere around fifty films screened. While your obedient Man In Nashville would gladly attend every last one of them, his employers and family (heartless bastids, amIrite?) seem to feel he should also tend to their needs. I have, therefore, selected twelve films I think (and hope) will merit my eyesight. Here’s a brief look at them
Television Pioneer: The Story of Ross K. Bagwell, Sr.
A documentary about the life of Ross Bagwell, a native of Knoxville, Tennessee (as in the University and the Wigsphere) who, per the press release, “pioneers part of the cable television industry in a place Hollywood would have never thought was possible.” A cursory glance reveals to me that he produced a show about roller derby for The Nashville Network. I assume there’s more.
Forgive me if it seems lazy to copy directly from the PR materials, but I can’t top this: “As the deadliest natural disaster in US history strikes Galveston, Texas, taking an estimated 6,000 to 12,000 lives, a mysterious televisual device projects images of unknown origin.” They had me at “deadliest natural disaster”…and at “mysterious televisual device”…and at “unknown origin”. Also, it’s apparently in 3-D.
There are, should you want to find them, essays upon essays about the simple-yet-profound act of walking through major cities. This film, it seems, is one of them, as it chronicles the efforts of one Matt Green, a resident of New York City, to walk every single street in NYC, including all five boroughs—that’s 8,000 miles of walking, which has taken him six years, so far. I expect a fresh perspective on a much-loved (and much-filmed) city, to say nothing of perspective on Green himself.
In 1976, Robert DeNiro played a taxi driver who took the job out of desperation, and, in taking the job, found himself brushing up against a world he understood less and less all the time. In 2018, Better Call Saul’s Patrick Fabian is a former record store owner in his fifties, who takes a job with Driver X (Driver X:Lyft and Uber=Johnny Fontane:Frank Sinatra) out of desperation, and, in taking the job, finds himself brushing up against a world (read: millennials) he understands less and less all the time. Also stars Milessa Fumero, a long way (literally and, I assume, figuratively) from Brooklyn Nine-Nine
A Murder In Mansfield
Collier Landry grew up in a town called Mansfield, Ohio; in 1990, he was forced to grow up at a grossly accelerated rate, when he had to testify in a murder case against a local doctor—Collier’s father. Could that be any worse? It could: the victim was Collier’s mother. Murder follows Collier back to Mansfield, where he tries to dialogue with his imprisoned father, who still denies his guilt. If you could stomach the O.J. Simpson interview earlier this year, this is likely to be in the same vein, a similar gaze into the abyss…which most definitely gazes back.
Full disclosure here—of all twelve films I’ll be watching, I’m most looking t forward to this one. It’s the story of Steve Young, who, when he wrote for David Letterman, stumbled across a genre of music he’d never realized existed: Industrial Musicals. If you’re unfamiliar, Industrial Musicals are composed of big, loud, brassy, all-in musical numbers about…things a corporation is doing. They’re a wholly bizarre by-product of the Mad Men era, and for Steve, they became an obsession, a portal to a new world. Steve’s old boss Dave appears in the film, as do Florence Henderson, Martin Short, and Broadway icon Chita Rivera. If you’d like a sample of Industrial Musical—and believe me, you would—tune in LuxuriaMusic.com, where such inspiring works are in heavy rotation alongside Esquivel and elevator music.
Bathtubs was about Industrial Musicals; this doc, however, is about Industrial, an entirely different genre of music, and about Wax Trax—the record label more or less responsible for putting the genre on the map in the first place. It tells the story of Jim Nash and Dannie Flesher, a gay couple (decades before our current reality) who turn their record store into a record label, a label full of game-changing acts, such as Foo Fighters, Nine Inch Nails, Ministry, Bauhaus, and the band with what may be rock’s most singularly unpleasant name: Throbbing Gristle. Directed by Julia Nash, Jim’s daughter, in the hope that she’d learn more about him.
More full disclosure—do you have any friends who have become obsessed with the musical Hamilton? Are you, perhaps, the Hamilhead in your circle of friends? I am, and that’s why I’m making sure to see this one, partially produced by/partially written by/starring Daveed Diggs, who originated on Broadway the dual roles of Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson (and, per the Guinness people, delivered the fastest lyrics in Broadway history; at one point, his hip-hop Lafayette delivered a dizzying 19.5 words per second. While leaping in mid-air and brandishing a sword. But I digress.). Diggs is not a Founding Father here; he’s a young man in the mean (but increasingly gentrified) streets of Oakland, California, trying to balance his life, his friendships, his past, and his future.
Most of us probably never want to revisit November 8, 2016, unless we could literally do so with a time machine and…other equipment. This documentary does, however, but in a novel way: it tells several different stories about the deceptively simple process of casting a vote. We see the last tavern polling place in the country; we see Warren Buffet (you know, the iconic billionaire who isn’t a garbage fire) giving rides to his fellow Omahans who can’t otherwise reach the polls; we see a convicted felon, whose right to vote has finally been restored, actually cast a vote for the first time since the restoration. What don’t we see? That’s simple: how any of the subjects vote.
The Okavanga, besides being a truly delightful thing to say if one has echolalia, is a 1500-mile-long river in Botswana, with an accompanying delta. At least, it is for now; scientists have determined that the delta is getting smaller. Directors/researchers Neil Gelinas and Brian Newell venture into the Okavanga in search of an explanation.
It is said that no worthy collection of rock albums is complete without The Velvet Underground and Nico, the band that coalesced around Andy Warhol; this is the story of that Nico, nee Christa Paffgen, and her post-Warhol years touring Europe, singing in her singular and beautiful voice, and rebuilding a relationship with her estranged son. Mister Warhol and company were difficult folks to know, largely by design; this promises to make one of the more stunningly talented and beautiful members of his troupe into a real, approachable human being.
Much as I found it necessary to do with _Prototype_, I’m going to step aside here and let the promotional copy speak for itself: “’Mickey Reece’s Alien’ is a rumination on spirituality, space, and divine existentialism inspired by the Elvis and Priscilla Presley’s tumultuous marriage, and the people surrounding The King.”
Welp…hey, what’s not to love about that?