Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project. Marion Stokes was a civil rights activist, librarian and public access TV producer. After acquiring considerable wealth, Stokes would spend 35 years recording 24 hour news channels, stopping only to change the tapes on the VCRs that she had set up all over her home. By the time she passed away in 2012, Stokes assembled over 70,000 VHS tapes that covered everything from the Iranian hostage crisis to Sandy Hook. Director Matt Wolf looks back at how Stokes’ obsessive home taping ended up providing us a time capsule of how American news (and TV) has evolved – especially when it was discovered that the networks spent decades throwing out their archival material. The doc also covers how this project had a toll on her personal life, with every facet of her family’s life being structured – and at times, cut off – for the task of being present to change tapes. It’s a fascinating look at how activism and art intertwined and gave us an unique spin on American history. Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project is in theaters now. You can also go to www.zeitgeistfilms.com for more information.
Pariah: The Lives and Deaths Of Sonny Liston. In 1962, Sonny Liston was the heavyweight champion of the world and considered one of the most feared people on the planet. 9 years later, his decomposed body was discovered by his wife under mysterious circumstances. Now Liston’s colorful and turbulent life – and questionable death – is the subject of a new Showtime documentary. Directed by Simon George, it shows how Liston, the 2nd youngest of 25 children of an Arkansas sharecropper’s family, escaped a life of crime and poverty to win one of sports’ biggest prizes. It also delves how his mob ties dogged him his entire adult life, and how those connections may have played a key role in his two legendary fights with Muhammad Ali. George also examines the event leading up to Liston’s death – events that many in his circle was part of a well-orchestrated cover up. With remembrances from family, friends, contemporaries and historians, George has given one of boxing’s underrated champions his due. Pariah: The Lives And Deaths Of Sonny Liston is available now on Showtime.
The Band – The Band (50th Anniversary Edition). When The Band released Music From Big Pink in 1968, their combination of folk, blues, country, early rock n roll and soul ran a direct counter to what was happening in rock at the time. With the release of their self titled album a year later, The Band had graduated to superstar status, leaving a legacy that is still being felt today. To mark the album’s 50th Anniversary, Robbie Robertson personally oversaw this new box set featuring the original album remixed by legendary engineer Bob Clearmountain, 13 outtakes – six of which have never been released – and a new book featuring new liner notes and photos from that period. If that wasn’t enough, you’ll also get The Band’s complete performance at Woodstock – which was their 2nd official show under their new name. It’s the quintessential look at an American classic. The 50th Anniversary Edition of The Band by The Band is available now through Amazon, Apple Music and all major streaming services.
Morning Glory On The VIne: Early Songs and Drawings by Joni Mitchell. As her album Blue reached the top of the charts worldwide, Joni Mitchell self published Morning Glory On The Vine, a collection of handwritten lyrics and drawings. Only 100 copies were made and Mitchell gave them out to her closest friends as a holiday gift. Now, as part of her 75th birthday celebration, this much sought after book is getting a general release. It faithfully reproduces the original collection of poems, still lifes, portraits, self-portraits, abstractions, landscapes and much more. For this release, Mitchell has also included additional drawings that she made during this period, along with a new introduction. An absolute must have for any true Joni Mitchell fan. Morning Glory On The Vine: Early Songs And Drawings by Joni Mitchell is available now through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and all major book retailers.
The Beautiful Ones by Prince. Before his sudden and shocking passing in 2016, Prince was working with Paris Review editor Dan Piepenbring on a memoir in which he hoped would be ‘a handbook for the brilliant community’. We didn’t get to see how Prince would shape the full narrative, but Piepenbring does put together enough of what they were working on to give us a glimpse into what shaped and formed The Purple One’s life. The first half of the book features Prince, in his own handwritten pages describing key points in his formative years – his relationship with his parents (and with each other) battles with epilepsy, his first kiss, etc, – that’s told with both candor and humor. Piepenbring completes the memoir based on the material he assembled at Prince’s Paisley Park complex: a scrapbook that Prince kept during the making of his first album featuring photos, drawings and song lyrics; a room by room description of Paisley Park, a handwritten synopsis of what later became the basis for the seminal film Purple Rain and much more. It’s the most revealing Prince portrait to date told exclusively through his own prism. The Beautiful Ones by Prince is available now through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and all major book retailers.