1 of 3
The Last Pogo Jumps Again
2 of 3
3 of 3
Ain’t In It For My Health: A Film About Levon Helm
The challenge of building Canadian Music Week's film component, I would imagine, is the general sameness of rockumentaries. It can't be easy to find projects that offer more than a formulaic Behind The Music exploration of a given band's rise, fall and triumphant re-emergence.
I haven't seen all the titles in the 2013 edition of the CMW Film Fest, but the docs that were available to screen - many of which played at South By Southwest earlier this month - do a good job of avoiding those pitfalls.
Ain't In It For My Health: A Film About Levon Helm (Thursday, 7 pm) was completed in 2010, two years before the death of the man who was arguably the Band's most valuable player. Now, with Helm's passing not even a year behind us, Jacob Hatley's documentary gives us a record of the 70-year-old musician's personal chaos, professional disarray and failing health - which he faced with the same genial orneriness that defined him in his youth. Weirdly enough, it left me certain that Helm went out happy.
Ron Chapman's Who The F**k Is Arthur Fogel? (Friday, 7 pm) points the camera at the chairman of global music for Live Nation. A fixture on Billboard's Power 100, Fogel is a veteran tour producer who's worked with Madonna, U2 and Sting, among others, and recently helped Lady Gaga up her stage game when she graduated to stadium tours. Fogel will be doing a keynote interview Friday afternoon as part of CMW, so this would be smart programming even if it didn't illuminate an aspect of the industry that rarely gets much serious attention.
Saturday afternoon offers a matinee of Colin Brunton and Kire Paputts's The Last Pogo Jumps Again (Saturday, 12:30 pm), which makes Brunton's invaluable short The Last Pogo - which recorded the Horseshoe's final punk showcase in 1978 - the cornerstone of a three-and-a-half-hour doc covering Toronto's punk scene in the 70s. There will be an intermission. You will need it.
As is often my experience with film festivals, the movie I most want to see wasn't available for preview: Drew DeNicola's Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me (Saturday, 9:15 pm), which looks at the history and legacy of Alex Chilton's seminal power pop band, which was as unsuccessful as it was influential.
There's also a sneak preview of Spring Breakers (Thursday, 9:15 pm). Given the momentum Harmony Korine's film featuring Disney stars going wild has been building since breaking out at the Toronto Film Festival last fall, I expect that will be a total zoo. You might want to wait until its commercial release next week. Unless the zoo thing appeals to you, of course.
It'll likely be the closest thing to a rock show the CMW Film Fest produces all weekend.