Big Smash! Music Scene Movies

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Every Thursday at the Cinematheque
100 Arthur St. /

A new weekly series of music films that aims to enlighten as much as entertain, BIG SMASH! MUSIC SCENE traverses broad musical terrain: baroque pop, country, metal, punk, soul & funk, folk and outsider music – all for a discounted admission of $5. Although in some cases premieres of popular films may hold over for longer runs, the series will focus on niche artists and the work of independent directors, with one-night-only screenings. Series curated by Kier-La Janisse with promotional assistance from MARIA, CKUW 95.9FM and Into The Music.


Thurs. July 3 – 9:00PM
Big Smash! Music Scene:
Dir. Kerri O’Kane USA 2005 / 80min. / BETA SP / Music Documentary


In a pre-Nirvana Seattle, The Gits were the resident musical underdogs. With the unparallelled vocal power of front woman Mia Zapata they set the bar for indie rock in the Pacific Northwest. After inspiring such incendiary bands as Seven Year Bitch to pick up their instruments, they caught the ear of major label record execs who heard the muscular riffs and soulful hooks and realized what fans already knew – The Gits were anything but your typical street punk outfit. Because of this, the tragedy that struck in 1993 was that much harder to swallow.

With intimate live footage and interviews with the surviving members,director Kerri O’Kane explores the mystique and digs into the mystery of one of the rock world’s most enigmatic bands. One part THE FILTH AND THE FURY, one part CSI: SEATTLE, THE GITS is a rock doc as engaging and powerful as the music that inspired it. (Calgary International Film Festival)


Thurs. July 10 – 9:00PM
Big Smash! Music Scene:

Dir. Denny Tedesco | USA 2008 | 95min. | DVCAM | Music Documentary

When the recording industry moved its headquarters from New York and Detroit to the West Coast in the mid-60s, a handful of exacting musicians – including Hal Blaine, Tommy Tedesco, Carol Kaye, Earl Palmer, Al Casey, Larry Knechtel and more - suddenly found themselves working around the clock as hired hands. From the Beach Boys and Nancy Sinatra to The Monkees and Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, they became the session players on almost every recording of cultural importance from 1964 to 1972. They were Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound. And they were called THE WRECKING CREW.


Thurs. July 17 – 9:00PM
Big Smash! Music Scene:

Dir. Trond Saettem | Norway 2002 | 60min. | Video | Music Documentary

Grafting gleefully perverse psychosexual humor with a bruising yet intricate blend of punk and hard rock, Turbonegro had earned a large and passionate following in Europe in 1998, and seemed poised to do the same in the United States when the band abruptly fell apart after their lead singer Hank Von Helvete succumbed to a heroin addiction and a nervous breakdown. In 2002, the band members persuaded a recovered Von Helvete to give the band a second chance, and the group set out on an enthusiastically-received reunion tour. This film follows the band as they pick up the pieces and resume the madness of denim-and-leather-clad life on the road. (Mark Deming)


Thurs. July 24 – 9:30PM
WHAT WE DO IS SECRET – sneak screening!
Dir. Rodger Grossman | USA 2007 | 92min. | DVCAM | Musical Bio-pic

Over the course of a few short years, Darby Crash and his band, The Germs, terrified Los Angeles’s nightclub owners, provoked their audiences, wrestled with vices, released a landmark album and burned red hot - until burning out. Crash’s 1980 suicide from a heroin overdose assured that The Germs became the stuff of legend, inspiring legions of followers from G.G. Allin to Nirvana. First-time director Rodger Grossman captures their legacy in this unique biopic that mixes dramatized interviews, live performances and vignettes of the artistic and personal struggles between Crash, his band, his boyfriend and his scene. (John Vettese)


Thurs. July 31 – 9:00PM
Big Smash! Music Scene:

Dir. Kim Shively and Chris Bagley | USA 2008 | 77min. | DVCAM | Music Documentary

This heart-warming bio details the remarkable life of artist and musician Wesley Willis who, despite impossible odds, became an underground icon and hero to many before his untimely death in 2003 at age 40. Wesley, a schizophrenic, sought refuge by making incredibly detailed freehand drawings and writing songs. But his subsequent fame came at a cost. On tour Wesley often forgot to look after himself and his mental illness. By the time he died, he had made 50 albums and thousands of drawings. Interviews with Wesley, friends and family, along with footage from his live performances, paint an absorbing portrait of a loveable man who found happiness in creativity. (Shannon Abel, Hot Docs)


Thurs. Aug. 7 - 9:00PM / Fri. Aug 8 & Sat. Aug. 9 – 9:30PM
Dir. J.P. Schaefer | USA 2007 | 84min. | 35mm | Drama/Bio-pic

He came to New York to meet John Lennon...and the world changed forever. The controversial film about John Lennon’s killer in the days leading up to his assassination of the visionary poet, activist and musician makes its Winnipeg premiere despite a worldwide boycott. Jared Leto packed on 67 pounds to play the lead, and his performance has as many champions as vitriolic detractors. Premiere magazine called the film “visually ugly, morally non-existent and a complete black hole in the departments of insight and wit, Chapter 27 is quite possibly the most godawful, irredeemable film to yet emerge in the 21st century.” Is CHAPTER 27 thoughtless exploitation or is the negative criticism directed at the subject rather than the film? Come decide for yourself.


Thurs. Aug. 14 – 9:30PM
Big Smash! Music Scene:
Dir. Muscha | Germany 1984 | 87min. | Video | Sci Fi/Music Narrative

Based on the writings of William S. Burroughs (and featuring Burroughs in a small role), DECODER is a rarely-seen cult thriller which expands on the phenomenon known as `Muzak.' - an artificial product created by scientists, musicians and marketing experts who construct a particular tonal sequence designed to increase productivity and enhance wellbeing. The 1984 of Orwell is imminent, and apocalyptic signs can be seen everywhere: muzak represents indisputable evil, the totalitarian, multinational brainwashing masked under an anonymous, seemingly neutral façade. The film stars FM Einheit as an anti-muzak producer who joins a resistance led by Throbbing Gristle’s Genesis P. Orridge, and frequent Burroughs collaborator Bill Rice as an undercover agent. PLUS! The legendary underage prostitute/heroin addict/pop culture icon Christiane F. appears as Einheit’s girlfriend.


Thurs. Aug. 21 – 9:00PM
Big Smash! Music Scene:

Compiled by Kier-La Janisse | USA 2006 | 90min. | BETA SP | Music Documentary
Narrated by Boyd Rice

One of pop music's most original and endearing iconoclasts, singer/songwriter Lee Hazlewood was mentor to many, including Duane Eddy, Nancy Sinatra, Ann Margret, and Phil Spector. His writing and producing transformed Nancy Sinatra into an international star, and it’s no coincidence that many of Lee’s hand-picked session players went on to become part of the legendary “Wrecking Crew”, Hollywood’s most in-demand group of session musicians. In 1970, Hazlewood landed in Sweden, where he started working on film projects with director Tobjorn Axelman. This compilation features rare footage from Lee’s films and vintage live performances and examines the lasting musical influence of a true American original.


Thurs. Aug 28-Sat. Aug 30 – 9:00PM
Big Smash! Music Scene:

Dir. Benson Lee | USA 2008 | 95min. | 35mm | Music/Pop Culture Documentary

PLANET B-BOY tracks the evolution of a street dance turned universal art form, culminating in an international showdown! B-boy crews from 18 different countries face-off in Germany at the annual "Battle of the Year" World Championships, eager to represent. Behind the dancers' infectious energy and mad skills lie personal stories that inspire and drive them: an American dancer struggles for a break, a Korean son seeks his father's approval, a 12-year-old French boy confronts his family's racism and a Japanese B-boy pays tribute to his dead father. All of the dancers struggle to be understood by their families and society at large. (Angie Driscoll, Hot Docs)

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