CANADIAN MUSIC WEEK FILM FESTIVAL until March 24, various locations. $10. See listings.
Canadian Music Week isn't just about music. The organizers put together a pretty nifty film component, too, screening at locations all around downtown.
Things got under way earlier this week with the Canadian premiere of Under African Skies, a documentary about the legacy of Paul Simon's Graceland. Don't worry if you missed it; it's set to screen again next month as Doc Soup's April offering, and there's plenty of other stuff to see.
One disappointment is Jeanie Finlay's Sound It Out (Thursday, March 22; rating: NN), a too loving look at the eponymous record shop, the last independent vinyl dealer in the northeast of England. Billed as a real-life version of High Fidelity, it instead captures the dull, repetitive reality of working in a record shop by being, well, dull and repetitive. At 75 minutes, it's at least an hour longer than it needs to be.
By contrast, Don Argott and Demian Fenton's Last Days Here (Thursday, March 22; rating: NNNN) is ideally suited to feature length. The filmmakers, who made Rock School and The Art Of The Steal, have brought another fantastic subject to the screen. That would be Bobby Liebling, lead singer of the cult band Pentagram, now a shell of his hard-rocking self after decades lost to addiction. As Liebling's former bandmates reach out to him for a reunion tour, the filmmakers turn the cliché of the burnt-out rocker inside out. You'll be riveted.
I wasn't quite as impressed with CMW's other tale of a rock casualty, Hit So Hard (Friday, March 23; rating: NNN), which turns Hole drummer Patty Schemel's fall from grace into the standard Behind The Music biography. That's not a knock on Schemel herself, just on the simplistic way the film chooses to package her story.
The 2012 shorts program (Friday, March 23) includes the gentle Kevin (Rating: NNN), which finds filmmaker Jay Duplass (Cyrus and Jeff, Who Lives At Home) heading to Austin to look up Kevin Gant, an eccentric singer/songwriter who stopped performing in the 90s, and Man & Machine: A Naked Robotic Love Story (Rating: NNN), a singularly weird look at a Belgian couple who've devised an elaborate cyber-orchestra that responds best when its conductor is in the buff.
Oh, and CMW's also holding a Saturday (March 24) matinee screening of The Muppet Movie - the beloved 1979 original - to feature a Q&A with composer Paul Williams, who's enjoying a renaissance of his own thanks to the recent documentary Paul Williams: Still Alive. Shame they couldn't book that, too.