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Music AND Comedy? It’s Like Bumbershoot Never Stopped!

September 6th, 2013 § Leave a Comment

The Grand Illusion continues to be Seattle’s preeminent purveyor of documentary goodness, especially dealing with all matters musical. So is it surprising that we rocking not one but TWO documentaries for the price of one (a double feature if you will, or two half features equals one)? Of course not, you know how we do.

The first thing that struck me about the John Fahey documentary is that he sounds exactly like Joel Hodgson when he talks (you know, of MST3K fame), and looks like old, overweight Jon Benjamin (you know, of alternative comedy fame). Call me crazy, but if you are familiar with either of these gentlemen, watch the film and tell me I’m not right (picture below, though he doesn’t look that Jon Benjamin-y, maybe I am crazy). Fahey speaks with the calm surety of an artist in his element, no wonder he identified with turtles so much. You get the feeling that’s the speed and tempo at which he lived life. By the end of the film, you see that he was not exactly still at the forefront of guitar innovation nearer the end of his life. The moment in which he finds out the music he’s doing has already been invented, and there’s already a term to describe it (“gothic industrial ambient,” or something like that), is perhaps my favorite moment in the film. He didn’t care he wasn’t doing anything different or new, he just wanted to make the music he wanted to make and so he does it. A true artist for art’s sake; doesn’t care if he’s in or out of step with the times.

Jon? Oh, it's just John.

Jon? Oh, it’s just John.

The accompanying short film is about Nels Cline, lead guitarist for Wilco. That’s really just a footnote, as they don’t talk about Wilco really at all. Instead, it’s more of a studio concert film as Nels jams with different musicians in a highly experimental, avant-garde fashion. If you’re a big fan of the weirder guitar settings and drones in some of Wilco’s jammier songs (I sure am), there’s some great stuff to be found here. Don’t expect major illumination on Wilco; if you are, I highly recommend the film ASHES OF AMERICAN FLAGS, a perfect tour documentary and one of my favorite rock docs.

I’m forging right on ahead to next week, cause I’ll be out of town and I wanted to touch on this truly important and first rate comedy documentary. And we have filmmakers again (thanks again to Josh Johnson of REWIND THIS!), so be polite Seattleites and come say hello!

The film feels personal in all the right ways, as Negin and Dean are both the subjects and directors of this film. As accessible a documentary as I’ve ever seen, the movie plays like one big reality TV episode. With confessional style reactions, “man on the street” interludes, and of course on stage footage from the actual stand up sets, Negin and Dean weave a remarkable cross section of modern Muslim life in America. And they boast one of the most impressive “who’s who” of mainstream comedians and media personalities I’ve ever seen in a little indie documentary, weighing in on the aggressive marginalization of Muslims by some media outlets and fringes of the far right. A pitch perfect balancing act of the tropes of reality TV and news magazine and live comedy. Come show our Muslim brothers what they already know: Seattle loves comedy and Seattle loves Muslims! Hell, I was eating me some Mr. Gyros while I finished watching the doc! Perfect!

Hug? Yes please.

Hug? Yes please.

My one regret going on vacation this coming week: I’m going to miss Bleeding Skull night. A NIGHT TO DISMEMBER and BOARDINGHOUSE look like my two favorite cult movies I’ve never seen before, and I’ll have to find a way to get my hot little paws on them at some point! That’s September 14 for those paying attention!

And don’t forget THE REP, a documentary about repertory theatres (that’s what the GI is, if you never knew really what to call the little theatre that plays old movies). Lots going on here, and with summer movie season wound down, why would you go anywhere else in town? It’s been thunderstorming for Godssakes! Stay inside and watch movies!

—Bumber and thunder, dan

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