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…
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 Feels 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.
Tribeca Film Festival 2019 presents a wide diversity of films, including screenings of branded entertainment. Branded programming is sponsored by a corporate marketing strategy, trying to connect with an audience in a richer way about the brand. On Friday, April 26, Tribeca X explored the intersection of entertainment and advertising. We had the chance to view one of the intriguing Episodic Finalists, History of Memory (Short Documentary), sponsored by The Garage at HP, and talk with the directors Sarah Klein and Tom Mason.
Following up on my previous What-to-See article, which focused on Archival Movies at Tribeca Film Festival, I am listing a few more Top Picks that I could not exclude. Here are some films that grabbed my attention during the pre-festival screenings, and which you cannot fail in seeing. I am recommending two Magic Realism films that are beautiful and dramatic, and two Activism films that are urgently important. Plus, one of the several Music Documentaries that I haven’t seen but is sure to be a winner.