Movie Blog: Highlights From Sound Unseen Fest 2012

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The Trylon Microcinema, Take-Up Productions and 89.3 The Current are teaming up to bring you this year’s finest (or maybe just loudest) selection of music- and art-centric films, many of which are receiving their local or even regional premieres. Yes, it’s time to delve deep into Sound Unseen!

Here are some capsules of the fest’s highlights from our movie bloggers Jonathon Sharp and Eric Henderson. More information, the complete list of films being screened, show times and ticket information are all available at this link.

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An Affair of the Heart — SOLD OUT
(Director: Sylvia Caminer; 93 min; 2012)
Wednesday, Oct. 10, 7 p.m.

There are three songs you can expect to hear at any given evening at the karaoke bar. First, there’s “Jack & Diane.” Next is “Baby Got Back.” Third: “Jessie’s Girl.” If you don’t already have a ticket to this year’s opening night film in the 2012 Sound Unseen film festival, you’d better hike it over to the U Otter Stop Inn, because this new documentary about the life, times, and tunes of rock star Rick Springfield is all sold out. Tough break for fans, who are shown in every state of tizzy throughout the course of this doc’s 93 minutes. Stopping just short of hagiography, An Affair of the Heart at times comes off as an inversion of This is Spinal Tap. Whereas Tap were depicted stumbling through the ignominy of fan indifference and bad management, Springfield here comes off as a Grammy-winning one-hit wonder eternally grateful for the opportunity to play a part in his fans’ lives. Scenes of downright shocking devotion, especially from his life-long female fans — scenes which would in just about any other context seem the springboard for contempt and snark — are played straight, and are rendered surprisingly sweet for it. Gee, can’t wait for the Sir Mixx-A-Lot documentary. Eric Henderson

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The Source
(Director: Jodi Wille and Maria Demopoulos; 98 min; 2012)
Thursday, Oct. 11, 7 p.m.

Interested in hippie culture or rise of religious cults in the early 1970s? If so, The Source is pretty rich in a psychedelic what-the-hell-were-they-thinking kind of way. It retells the rise of the Source Family in southern California, and it all starts (and ends) with one man, a Jim Baker. He’s a Jujitsu expert and WWII veteran who allegedly killed two men with his bare hands while living in SoCal. A millionaire restaurateur, he opened one of the world’s first health food, vegetarian restaurants, the Source. This is where things get interesting. A weekly mediation class eventually evolves into a hippie commune where everyone is kind to each other, doing drugs, having sex and following the teachings of Baker, who changes his name to Father Yod. He tells his “children” that he is God-on-earth, and to follow his commandments. But over time, these commandments change. At first, every man has his woman and every woman her man. But when Yod decides he wants 13 wives, he gets his 13 wives. Slowly, the family is torn by emotional wounds. The Source family’s history is told by ex-members who don’t seem to have hated the lifestyle, although it seems clear they wouldn’t do what they did again. The movie, which is full of images, videos and music straight from the Source’s in-house historian, doesn’t pass judgment on the family. The filmmakers leave that job up to you. [NOTE: This movie has some raw images, such as young girls giving birth, people doing drugs and frontal male nudity.] Jonathon Sharp

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xxx All Ages xxx: The Boston Hardcore Story
(Director: Drew Stone; 85 min; 2012)
Thursday, Oct. 11, 9 p.m.
Link: Official Trailer (Note: Clip contains strong language.)
Oy, that title’s going to cause some hilarious malarkey with search engine optimization. All Ages starts out like just about any rock doc dealing with a, shall we say, seasoned set of musicians. Reunion concert, check. Grizzled but devoted fans, check. Kids talking about how their parents used to rock, check. Unfortunately, the flick sort of keeps on acting like a typical rock doc from there (think tons of talking heads), with is something of a disappointment since its topic is the freaky, speedy, bloody history of the hardcore scene in Boston circa 1981-1984. Glorious, high contrast B&W still photographs of the scene do a lot to paper over the holes, though, along with intriguing explanations of the “straight edge” lifestyle (think “Goody Two Shoes” — don’t drink, don’t smoke) many hardcore kids espoused. If you grew up listening to the pounding thrashery of Black Flag or The Misfits, then you’ll be right at home reminiscing about the short but potent careers of S.S. Decontrol, D.Y.S., The Freeze and others who howled “This Is Boston, Not L.A.!” (If nothing else, the movie sure inflated a severely malnourished genre tag in my iTunes library. I want to go to there.) – EH

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Cartoon College
(Director: Josh Melrod and Tara Wray; 75 min; 2012)
Saturday, Oct. 13, 11 a.m.

Although it sort of comes off as an art school ad, Cartoon College is a documentary following a group of misfits as they struggle through a two-year MFA program dedicated to the art of cartooning. Be warned: This is no comedy. The aspiring cartoonists come from all over America, and a great many carry the burdens of an unhappy childhood. Growing up, these students were the nerds, those who got their asses kicked for not liking football or were mistaken for homosexuals/foreign exchange students. At the college, however, they form a cartoon community, and thrive. Well, some do, at least. Failure, the film says rather redundantly, is a part of cartooning — all art, really. At its best, Cartoon College captures a few intriguing and tragic moments as the students struggle to produce the objects in which they find happiness, an escape, a distilled version of life’s many moments. Some of the characters are pretty interesting. And by the end one is almost certain Cartoon College isn’t an ad. – JS

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The Crumbles
(Director: Akira Boch; 73 min; 2012)
Saturday, Oct. 13, 1 p.m.

How many rock legends never happened because their roommates just wanted to hang out with their boyfriends instead of practicing their keyboard licks? That’s the pseudo-difficult question asked by the minor but cute post-teen drama The Crumbles. Darla thinks she isn’t really going anywhere in life, until she gets a long-term visit from her old friend Elisa, a hot mess who has even less going her way and needs a place to crash. The two parlay their varying levels of musical talent into a band with the help of Dante, the hunky kid next door who Darla won’t stop ogling but won’t start kissing. This being Los Angeles, no one seems capable of not flaking out, and The Crumbles’ oversized pop-rock ambition (they want their debut record to be a double-disc concept album!) have to contend with their undersized motivation. – EH

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Radio Unnameable
(Director: Paul Lovelace and Jessica Wolfson; 87 min; 2012)
Sunday, Oct. 14, 1 p.m.

Bob Fass was the perfect voice for the gig he filled for five decades. As the overnight host of listener-supported WBAI Radio in New York City, Fass held court over some of the most contentious times in our country’s history, and guided the frantic, fractured panoply of conversations from callers-in with his honeyed, soothing set of pipes. During his time on the air — which spanned the Vietnam War, civil rights unrest and all other touchstones of what the Village Voice rather ironically just called “an overchronicled era” — Fass hosted live in-studio performances from Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Judy Collins and others, was arrested on the air, and in one horrifying episode broadcast for hours his phone conversation with a suicidal caller who, having taken an overdose of pills, drifted further and further away from consciousness. – EH

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