Everyone Stares: The Police Inside Out (Stewart Copeland). 74 minutes. Saturday (June 10), Royal Cinema (608 College). 416-516-4845. Rating: NNN
On the eve of the Police 's 's's first U.S. tour, drummer Stewart Copeland spent what few pennies he had on a Super 8 camera. A few decades later, he's put together a very realistic document of Sting 's band hitting the American interstate, getting famous and losing their innocence along the way. (It debuted at Sundance earlier this year.)
Details like the Police needing to generate $300 a day to support the tour, visuals of the sparse early in-stores, radio appearances, photo shoots and motel and hotel room innards give the doc an intriguing diary feel.
That lo-fi yet toasty 8mm analog glow gives Copeland's movie an uncomplicated, understated aesthetic with quite a bit of charm. No talking heads, no music videos, no graphics, no special effects -- just the old reel scored by stripped-down Police tracks and the director's own genial commentary.
A generous glimpse for Police fans, who won't want to miss this Canadian premiere theatrical showing attended by Copeland himself.
Danielson: A Family Movie (J. L. Aronson). 110 minutes. Director in attendance. Sunday (June 11), 5 pm, NFB Cinema (150 John). 416-973-3012. Rating: NNNN
If all you know about Daniel Smith , ringleader of costumed Christian psych-rock clan the Danielson Famile , is his fondness for dressing up in a tree outfit and squealing into a microphone, this film may blow your mind. J. L. Aronson 's intimate glimpse behind the nurse uniforms and felt foliage offers a comprehensive history of Smith's travelling kin-based revival show, from its origin as a Rutgers fine art thesis project to its gradual dissolution in the face of family values as, one by one, Smith's brothers and sisters drop their instruments, get married and start breeding.
Along with first-person narration from each Famile member, which fleshes out the formerly faceless Smith sibs, the gold mine of archival footage and various heartfelt explanations of the Famile mandate provide a complex understanding of the depth and spiritual weight of Daniel Smith's seemingly silly performance troupe. Even the nurses' uniforms have a purpose.
Though Aronson's adoption of a combination Partridge Family/Bible school construction-paper aesthetic for sporadic animated sequences is charming, the real draw here is the initially innocuous story of Sufjan Stevens , who joined the Famile as an interim member, then broke off with a solo shtick that not only appropriated bits of the Danielson aesthetic (and band), but greatly overshadowed Daniel Smith's own work.
It's easy to understand why Stevens succeeded where Smith failed (sonically, his folk-based melodies are far more digestible than the Famile's screechy psych-rock freakouts), but director Aronson's ability to imply the hijacking through skilled editing, rather than smack you in the face with the seeming betrayal, is genius.
Real Kids revealed
ALL KINDSA GIRLS (Cheryl Eagan-Donovan). 66 minutes. NFB Cinema (150 John). Friday (June 9), 7 pm. Director in attendance. Rating: NNNN
Long before Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong played his first note, the plans for a pop-punk takeover were being thrown together in Boston by gifted misfit singer/guitarist John Felice , who formed the Real Kids to start the revolution. Of course, it didn't happen until much later, and by then Felice had been forgotten everywhere but Japan. But as first-time filmmaker Cheryl Eagan-Donovan underscores in her surprisingly poignant rock doc All Kindsa Girls , it's precisely those big-dreaming coulda-been contenders who make great cinema.
Rare early Real Kids rehearsals on film and some great performance footage from France are intercut with talking-head commentary from musical contemporaries (including Willie "Loco" Alexander and Jonathan Richman ), promoters, bandmates, family members and artists inspired by the Real Kids. Eagan-Donovan casts the band in a support role, with the Boston club scene as a backdrop to Felice's story. We see him move from troubled home life to his against-all-odds triumph with the Real Kids, whose career proves all too brief.
All Kindsa Girls is a compelling and informative tale told with genuine affection for its subject.