The Quiet One, a cinematic memoir about bassist Bill Wyman, founding member of The Rolling Stones, directed by Oliver Murray, played at Tribeca Film Festival and is set to start a theatrical run in June. It’s far from the typical music documentary. Based on Wyman’s immense, personal archive of film, photographs and audio, including new voice-over commentary by Wyman himself, Murray (previously a music video director) had the unenviable task of making a documentary that would offer something fresh to fans or insightful to music historians, while working under the employ of the notoriously private man-of-few-words. The film is oddly fascinating for all the reasons it aims not to be…
Game of Thrones is ending, and now where will we hide from our disillusionment and despair? Well, if watching Jon Snow learn to ride a dragon in the Game of Thrones didn’t give you quite the lift you wanted, Helen Highly Suggests you try watching Slay the Dragon, directed by Barak Goodman and Chris Durrance – an earth-shaking documentary that follows a brutal civil war for the prize of Democracy in the land of the United States of America.
H.G. Wells said, “We all have our time machines. Those that take us back are memories, and those that carry us forward, are dreams.” The new documentary film, Our Time Machine, which premiered at Tribeca Film Festival this year, manages to do both, and more. Using a kind of Chinese magic-realism, directors S. Leo Chiang and Yang Sun and editor Bob Lee, along with artist Maleonn, take the viewer to a world that not only interweaves dreams and memories, but also mixes transcendent allegory and deeply-rooted personal reality as part of one amazingly cohesive story, told with both power and grace.
Most Woodstock documentaries have that mental plague of the sixties, of not remembering well. The original Woodstock (1970) directed by Michael Wadleigh was all about sensory experience — mind blowing split screens and a stream of consciousness narrative that barely reflected the chronology of the actual events. It has taken fifty years but Barak Goodman and his PBS American Experience team have artfully done justice to the real Woodstock, not some mythic fantasy in our collective imagination.
Helen Highly Compelled to Comment: Takes one to know one! Ron Simon is Senior Curator for Television for Paley Center for Media, and as a devoted archivist and historian (and possible obsessive hoarder), he surely sees a kindred spirit in Marion Stokes. His ability to understand the extraordinary historical significance of what Marion created speaks to his expert insight. His admiration of her speaks perhaps to something else, more personal. I find it interesting and odd that Ron sees a romantic love story behind the film’s pained narration by Marion’s long-suffering son Michael and her husband John’s reported fear of Marion learning of any interaction he had with his deserted daughter from a previous marriage.
Television thrives on the neurotic lunacy of hoarders, but rarely do we experience the passion and purpose of a methodical collector, who really made a difference. Matt Wolf’s masterful documentary, Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project takes us into the visionary psychic and cluttered physical worlds of a woman who turned her acquiring fury into a unique archive of contemporary history. Recorder had its world premiere at Tribeca Film Festival 2019.