Fugazi, fugayzee. Bob Wier, Bob Wire. Trylon, McNally Smith. Point being, there’s a little something for everyone at this year’s Sound Unseen festival, so long as you have a song in your heart and don’t care whether you’re pronouncing they lyrics correctly. (To be clear, though, you should pay attention to whether your screenings of choice are at Trylon or McNally Smith. It’s a long drive.)

A few weeks ago, Jonathon Sharp previewed the event and wrote: “Heaven Adores You starts things off on Wednesday, Nov. 12, at McNally Smith. The documentary, directed by Nickolas Rossi, not only tells the story of Elliot Smith’s life and tragic death, but it also aims, according to press material, to show what drove his life’s work. … If he were alive today, he would have turned 45 in August. He’s missed by many, including me.

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“Some other films in the Sound Unseen slate to take notice of are Instrument and Beautiful Noise. The former is a unique documentary from the late ’90s on the post-hardcore band Fugazi that was 10 years in the making. … Beautiful Noise, on the other hand, appeals to me because it seeks to highlight the innovative sounds of bands from the ’80s and ’90s that used loads of guitar pedals to make dreamy soundscapes and distill them into the contours of pop. Think of bands like My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive, The Jesus & Mary Chain. The project piques my interest in that it’s focused not on the storied lives of rock stars, but on  interview-shy sonic explorers.”

Of course, that’s not all. There are shorts programs, musical performances, and some films are even in competition for a cash award; two of those are among the three notable screenings our WCCO Movie Blog team reviews below.

Tickets for film and music events are available at Sound Unseen’s website.


Well Now You’re Here, There’s No Way Back (Nov. 13; 9 p.m.; McNally Smith)

I was well aware of glam metal band Quiet Riot as a kid with MTV in the 80s. I was pleasantly scared by the guy in the straitjacket and the bloody, pre-Hannibal Lector metal mask who served as their mascot. But the band itself, especially former frontman Kevin DuBrow, seemed pretty funny to me, in a slightly self-aware, Spinal Tap-ish sort of way. I was always struck by the hairline of the cocky DuBrow, who died of a cocaine overdose in 2007, and how it was pretty insufficient for a metal lead singer (even in light of Judas Priest’s Rob Halford). I was even more tickled when the band took part in an episode of VH1’s “Behind The Music” in the late 90s, and DuBrow’s mane had been replaced with that of Cher in the “If I Could Turn Back Time” video. But Quiet Riot is more than just a jokey hair band (or hair-challenged band). Their monster 1983 album “Metal Health” is credited with launching “metal” into the mainstream. It featured their hit cover of the Slade tune “Cum On Feel The Noize,” and the influential title track, which demanded millions of disgruntled males to “bang your head.” But like so many bands featured on “Behind The Music,” Quiet Riot is no stranger to tragedy. Their original guitarist and founder, Randy Rhoads, was killed in a plane crash after leaving the band to join Ozzy Osbourne. And the aforementioned death of DuBrow brought the band to a screeching halt. Drummer Frankie Banali and his partner, Regina Russell, raised $24,000 from a Kickstarter campaign to produce “Well Now You’re Here, There’s No Way Back.” Russell went on to direct the feature, which is a fascinating and entertaining look at the wonderfully comical era of 80s heavy metal — though my use of “comical” might be purely subjective. — Stephen Swanson

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The Other One: The Long Strange Trip Of Bob Weir (Nov. 15; 7 p.m.; McNally Smith)

Fear not, this straight-up rock doc isn’t just for deadheads. Although “The Other One” is about the life of Grateful Dead rhythm guitarist Bob Weir, it’s focused more on his evolution as a man than it is his place in history’s most iconic “jam band.” Through several interviews and loads of archival footage, filmmaker Mike Fleiss has Weir retrace his life from the time when he was an adopted, dyslexic troublemaker to when he finds his biological parents decades later. In between, Weir tells of his purpose: music. The most amazing moments have Weir recounting his relationship with American legends, like Neal Cassady, whom he befriended on the acid-fueled bus full of young counter-culture notables, and Jerry Garcia, the Dead’s iconic lead guitarist, who was as close to Weir as a brother. The film’s most touching moments involve Garcia’s death, and how Weir tried, in his way, to keep his friend healthy. Other noteworthy items include Weir’s delicate and questioning relationship with the Dead’s uniquely obsessive fans, and how he was the only Dead member who actually looked like a rock star. With that came women, lots and lots of women. Yet, after “shopping around a lot,” Weir seems to have just glided into marriage. It’d be easy to envy his life, if he weren’t so humbly appreciative of everything. The film, in a way, just flies in the face of the classic sex-drugs-rock’n’roll disaster narrative. Weir did it all, lived to tell the tale, and seems all the better for it. — Jonathon Sharp


I Am A Knife With Legs (Nov. 15; 9 p.m.; McNally Smith College of Music)

In a way, we’re in just the right cultural moment for an objet d’snark like I Am A Knife With Legs to really soar even outside of the cult midnight movie circuit — though it’s pretty assured that this film will probably remain the sort of thing more often talked about than actually seen. Starring, written and directed by Bennet Jones, and boasting more tonal shifts than you can possibly hope to unpack, Knife is pitched somewhere between a mental meltdown and a late night, probably drug-addled laughing jag. It took something like seven years to make and nearly as many dollars. Jones’s character Bené, formed reportedly via many years of crafting at myriad stand-up comedy gigs, is a sort of pre-paunchy, serious-minded, ex-ish Europop star who is arguably best known for the abholes in his shirts, which are meant to show off his rippling abdominals even though his physique has drifted a little closer toward the profile cut by his manager, Beefy (Will Crest). Bené goes into hiding after his girlfriend Baguette is killed by a suicide bomber and a fatwa is taken out against him. (It was set up on a popular fatwa-reserving website.) And it sort of drifts even deeper into deadpan absurdism from there. In every fiber or pixel of its being, from every cut-rate moment of Michel Gondry-ish animation to each ludicrous musical number, Knife feels like the sort of film that only a select group could possibly appreciate, let alone tolerate. And yet, we’re in the immediate aftermath of Too Many Cooks‘ crazy viral success, so I suppose anything’s possible. — Eric Henderson

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