Marianne & Leonard: Words Of Love. The latest from director Nick Broomfield (Whitney: Can I Be Me, Kurt & Courtney) looks at the decades long relationship between Leonard Cohen and Marianne Ihien. Using footage shot by Broomfield and the late D.A. Pennebacker, it tells the story of how Cohen, then a struggling fiction writer, met Ihien, a single mother on the Greek island Of Hydra and became part of a community of creatives that would set the template for 1960s Bohemia. Their love affair would be the basis of some of Cohen’s greatest work including ‘So Long, Marianne’ and ‘Bird On A Wire’. But even as Cohen’s emergence as a songwriter and performer would ultimately end their relationship, the affection they had for each other would last until their deaths (just 3 months apart) in 2016. The footage that Broomfield assembles – some of which includes Cohen and Ihein as young lovers to their respective final days – is simply breathtaking. There’s also great audio clips from Ihien and Cohen providing first hand accounts on what was happening during this remarkable period in their lives, along with remembrances from family, friends and contemporaries. Bittersweet, yet uplifting, Broomfield has put together a film about one of music’s greatest love stories. One of the year’s best. Marianne & Leonard: Words Of Love is in theaters now. You can also go to www.marianneandleonardwordsoflove.com for more information.
Last Black Man In San Francisco. There’s been strong word of mouth about this debut feature from writer-director Joe Talbot and for good reason: It’s one of the year’s best films. It tells the story of two friends Jimmie (Jimmie Fails), a part time hospice worker and Montgomery (Jonathan Majors), an aspiring illustrator/playwright. Jimmie is a part time hospice worker and skate rat, while Montgomery is an aspiring illustrator and playwright. When they are not watching classic movies with Montgomery’s grandfather (Danny Glover), Jimmie still paints the window panes of the Victorian house where he grew up in – much to the displeasure of the current owners. When a legal battle leaves the house unoccupied, Jimmie and Montgomery move back in, even going as far as moving in the furniture from Jimmie’s youth. But both know that this temporary utopia won’t last, leaving them to make choices that will change their lives changed forever. Loosely based on Fails’ real life experiences, Talbot has put together a film that works as an ode to friendship, the devastating effects of gentrification, the lingering pain of a fractured family dynamics and – thanks to Adam Newport-Berra’s stunning cinematography – a love letter to San Francisco. Relative newcomers Fails and Majors are fantastic as the two lifelong friends, while veterans such as Danny Glover and Tinchina Arnold help give the emotional weight of the film much more weight. It’s a work that should make the rounds during awards season. The Last Black Man In San Francisco is in theaters now. You can also go to www.a24films.com for more information.
Shangri-La. Morgan Neville (20 Feet From Stardom) directed this 4 part Showtime documentary series on legendary producer Rick Rubin and the equally iconic studio where he’s overseen some of pop music’s landmark recordings. It covers Rubin’s rise as a co-founder of Def Jam, where he helped launched the careers of The Beastie Boys, LL Cool J, and Public Enemy, putting hip hop firmly in the mainstream for good. The series also covers Rubin’s days with American Recordings where he oversaw hit albums by Johnny Cash, Tom Petty, The Black Crowes, System Of A Down, and others. There’s also a history of the studios itself, which went from a Hollywood getaway to the prime studio for such artists as Bob Dylan, The Band, Eric Clapton, and Joe Cocker. Full of new interviews by Rubin and some of the top names in music, it’s a rare glimpse inside the creative process of one of the greatest producers of all time. Shangri-La premiers Friday at 9pm East on Showtime. You can also go to www.sho.com for more information.
Armstrong. A lot has been written about the 1969 Moon landing, but rarely has there been an in depth look at the one who became the first man to step on the lunar surface. Until now. David Fairhead’s new doc profiles Neil Armstrong, commander of Apollo 11 and uttered the words that have become embedded in the global consciousness. Done with full cooperation with Armstrong’s family, it features previously unseen home-movie footage shot by Armstrong, new interviews with family members, fellow astronauts, pilots and friends to show how Armstrong excelled as a aviator, astronaut, family man and reluctant hero. Harrison Ford reads portions of Armstrong’s rare interviews, speeches and writings to give a multi-dimensional insight into the man behind the myth. It’s a moving salute to a true American hero. Armstrong opens this weekend. You can also go to www.armstrongdoc.com for more information.
New York City. Now in its 22nd year, The Warm Up has become a go to summer destination for those looking to dance the day – and night – away. Some of the world’s best DJs are featured and also become a showcase for those on the verge of being the next big thing. Lizzo, Solange, and Cardi B are some of the program’s most famous alumni and with a dazzling art installation as a backdrop, it all makes for an evening that will be satisfy all of your synapses. The Warm Up 2019 runs each Saturday at MoMa PS1 through August 31st. You can also go to www.moma.org for more information.