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17 May
The Jazz Singer

(Alan Crosland, USA, 1927): The movie sound barrier was definitively shattered about nineteen minutes into The Jazz Singer, at the moment Al Jolson first appears as the grown-up Jakie Rabinowitz. A cantor's son who ran from home to the floodlights whose name is now Jack Robin, Jakie's just been...

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15 May
Stormy Weather

(Andrew Stone, USA, 1943): Even if the manifest story told by Stormy Weather is a tad whimsical and dubious -- it's the divine tap maestro Bill Robinson's account of his own life in showbiz as told to a group of superkeen Hollywood kids gathered on a studio front...

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11 May
Cabin in the Sky

(Vincente Minnelli, USA, 1943): In what certainly qualifies as one of the more dubious but revealing attempts at corporate political correctness, the Warner Brothers' DVD release of Cabin in the Sky begins with the following unskippable pre-credit disclaimer: "The films you are about to see...

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10 Apr
Saturday Night Fever

(John Badham, USA, 1977): Nearly forty years after Saturday Night Fever busted disco out of the urban ghetto and sent it to die in the suburbs, it's clearer than ever that it's a movie about living desperately in the moment because the present is the only place worth...

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03 Apr
The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle

(Julien Temple, UK, 1980): As dubious as it is as history, there are reasons to be grateful for this particular load of bollocks. First, it contains some truly essential stuff, including some of the Sex Pistols' most electrifying performances and that splatterific Wild Bunch Go Vegas Sid...

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02 Apr
The Last Waltz

(Martin Scorsese, USA, 1978): Almost instantly considered a jewel in the rock-doc crown, Martin Scorsese's reverentially mounted movie of The Band's final bow on Thanksgiving Day, 1976 has become somewhat tarnished over the years, and largely because the late Levon Helm successfully called it -- in his...

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01 Apr
Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars

(D.A. Pennebaker, UK, 1973): By the time D.A. Pennebaker's documentary of David Bowie's final show in the 1973 'Ziggy Stardust' tour was released ten years later, it already seemed ancient. For one thing, the film's fuzzy, handheld, verité style was sharply at odds with the prevailing...

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19 Mar
Led Zeppelin: The Song Remains the Same

(Peter Clifton, Joe Massot, UK/USA, 1976): When Robert Plant once dismissed this movie as "a load of bollocks", he was of course observing a long tradition of rock stars dumping on documentaries they appeared in. Dylan hated Dont Look Back because it made him look like a dink....

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05 Mar
On Quadrophenia and Norman Mailer (from The Globe and Mail)

Note: this originally appeared in The Globe and Mail in September, 2012. Whoever said LSD should stand for “Let the Sixties Die” won’t be nearly as pleased as I am to see that The Criterion Collection, the world’s finest purveyor of off-road home cinematic distractions, has just released...

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29 Feb
Love & Mercy

(Bill Pohland, USA, 2014): If director Bill Poland's decision to shoot key scenes of Brian Wilson's most inspired recording moments in EastWest Studios were premised on the hope that the environment might bring some haunted mojo to the production of Love & Mercy, you might want to dust...