Carmine Street Guitars. One of rock n roll’s unsung heroes is the subject of this new documentary by Ron Mann (Altman, Comic Book Confidential). It tells the story of Rick Kelly, who runs a custom guitar shop in Greenwich Village. Kelly makes his guitars from wood from old New York City buildings – some of which date back to the 1800s -giving them a sound and texture that are completely their own. Some of Kelly’s clients through the years have included Bob Dylan, Patti Smith and Lou Reed, and for the film, Jim Jarmusch, Lenny Kaye, Kirk Douglas of The Roots and Bill Frisell make appearances to test out some of Kelly’s latest work. Kelly is also joined by Cindy Hulej, his 25 year old apprentice, who specializes in wood burning and running the shop’s social media page; and Kelly’s 93 year old mother, who answers the phone and keeps the place dust free. But Kelly is the heart of the film , an analog guy who has managed to find his place in a digital world. It’s a dynamic, yet low key film that celebrates craftsmanship, community and individualism in the midst of growing gentrification. Carmine Street Guitars is in theaters now.
Hesburgh. The extraordinary life of Reverend Theodore Hesburgh is the subject of this new documentary from Patrick Creadon. Using archival footage and remembrances from those close to him, Creadon shows how during his 50 years tenure as President of The University Of Notre Dame, Hesburgh became a skilled educator, civil rights advocate, Presidential advisor and Papal envoy. Creadon also shows how Hesburgh built a reputation as a crafty political operative, who also managed to bridge divides between enemies while retaining a strong moral compass. The film also shows how Hesburgh often found himself on the right side of history – particularly when he stood side by side with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr and other leaders of the American Civil Rights movement. It’s a powerful salute to one of our great global citizens. Hesburgh is available in theaters now.
Cuz I Love You by Lizzo. The eagerly awaited debut album by the singer/songwriter/flutist is a lean, mean, all killer, no filler celebration of self-love, awareness and acceptance. Coming off like the love child of Prince, Mille Jackson who was raised by Auntie Missy Elliot (who also appears on one track), Lizzo fuses soul, gospel, funk and hip hop into a musical stew that is decidedly her own. Sassy, brassy, bawdy yet always insightful and straight up fun, this is an album that clocks in just over 30 minutes but leaves begging for more. One of the year’s best. Cuz I Love You by Lizzo is available now through Amazon, Apple Music and all major streaming services.
A Face In The Crowd. Audiences were quite prepared for Eliza Kazan’s 1957 take no prisoners film at the dangerous influence television could have on the public. Today, the film comes across as prophetic than dramatic. Andy Griffith makes a star making screen debut as Larry ‘Lonesome’ Rhodes, a drunken driver who is pulled out an Arkansas jail by producer Marcia Jeffries (Patricia Neal) to sing on a local radio station. Rhodes’ charm and down home style quickly makes him a national sensation but as his fame grows, so does his influence – and ego. Now Jeffries must do whatever it takes to bring down the media monster that she helped create. The Criterion Collection has just reissued A Face In The Crowd complete with a new, restored 4K digital transfer, a 2005 documentary featuring Griffith, Neal, Anthony Franciosa, and screenwriter Budd Schulberg; essays and much more. Given how television has shaped our cultural narrative and perceptions, it’s worth to see Kazan and company helped show us the warning signs. A Face In The Crowd is available now through The Criterion Collection. You can also go to www.criterion.com for more information.
New York City: Leonard Cohen: A Crack In Everything. Before he passed away in 2016, Leonard Cohen gave his blessing to the multimedia tribute happening now at The Jewish Museum. It will feature 12 artists and 18 musicians from 10 countries influenced by Cohen’s style and recurring themes in his work, along with a video projection showcasing Cohen’s artwork. Also, you can hear musicians such as Moby, Feist and The National covering classic Cohen songs. Whether you are a new fan or a long timer, this is a dynamic homage to one of rock’s greatest songwriters. Leonard Cohen: A Crack In Everything will be at the Jewish Museum through September 8th. You can also go to www.thejewishmuseum.org for tickets and additional information.