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6/9/16

REVIEW: The 2016 Cinetopia International Film Festival DAY THREE- De Palma, Uncle Howard, and Iggy Pop Live in Basel 2015

Day three of the 2016 Cinetopia International Film Festival and MCB spent it at the Detroit Film Theatre.
Here's what was viewed on DAY THREE...
 
De Palma
What THEY say:
Filmmaker Brian De Palma tells his own story, in his own words, about his journey to becoming one of the most revered filmmakers of the 20th century over a career that spans five decades. Seated in front of a fireplace, De Palma’s voice is the only one you will hear – no talking heads, no filler. Co-directors Jake Paltrow and Noah Baumbach weave together a life of filmmaking and storytelling to tell a tale as complex and layered as one of De Palma’s own films. From his depictions of women to the trappings of the studio system and the glory of low budget cinema, no subject is taboo. Featuring behind-the-scenes glimpses and insights into De Palma’s oeuvre, the filmmakers trace the history of film itself.
 
What MCB Says:
I'm a fan of film (needless to say I know) and Brian De Palma has made some mighty fine films in his career. Scarface, Carrie, The Untouchables, and Body Double rank as some of my favorites of his. I was looking forward to this documentary as it would bring me closer to the workings of his artistic mind. And it did just that. De Palma traces his career and films chronologically in this documentary as well as dipping into his personal life. Brian De Palma was in a league of great talent coming up and his friends in film include George Lucas, Francis Ford Coppola, Robert De Niro, and Steven Spielberg. It was a special time in history and it's great to hear De Palma share his stories. He shares a fun story about Sean Penn messing with Michael J. Fox on set that had the entire audience laughing. My favorite scene from the film involved De Palma saying disparaging remarks about the Carrie remakes and sequels. He calls out the films and specific scenes that were done wrong in them. This was the Michigan premiere of De Palma and was only shown on this one occasion at the Detroit Film Theater. Be sure to check it out when it receives a wider release.

Uncle Howard
What THEY say:
What begins as a tense mystery – following the trail to unearth missing film archives of WILLIAM S. BURROUGHS not seen for decades – becomes a candid look at its filmmaker, HOWARD BROOKNER. A look at Burroughs’ invaluable part within New York City and the evolution of the Beat Generation morphs into a current-day look back at the art and film movement of the late 1970s and 1980s, told by the likes of JIM JARMUSCH and HISAMI KUROIWA. The film focuses on Howard, who was taken from his family and the industry too soon, showcased lovingly in this work from his nephew, Aaron Brookner. An overlay of existing home video and never-before-seen footage – including appearances by SPIKE LEE, PATTI SMITH, ALLEN GINSBERG and MADONNA – offers candid interviews from the past and the present day. Uncle Howard does the near impossible: introducing someone while making their work and impact feel timeless and familiar.


What MCB Says:
The Documentary is my favorite film genre and I'm always game to discover a new one with a subject that I'm at least a tad bit interested in. Uncle Howard caught by interest for a couple reasons. The first would have to be William Burroughs as well as the fact that long lost film footage from a filmmaker was discovered.  This filmmaker would be Howard Brookner who directed the Burroughs: The Movie that was released in 1983. I had seen this film, but never knew anything about the director or the story surrounding it. With the help of director Jim Jarmusch and Howard's nephew Aaron we get a glimpse into into the making of this film through Howard's long lost footage. We are taken inside William Burroughs Bowery apartment called "The Bunker" in modern day times, but also transported to it in the past through Burroughs: The Movie footage. Don't expect much in regards to the films appearances of Spike Lee and Patti Smith as mentioned above. There are only some quick shots of them. John Waters is a name I would include though just due to the pictures of him and Howard at a gay strip bar post film festival back in the early 80's. Howard Brookner directed one more documentary and that footage is also tracked down in the most unusual place in this documentary. Howard also did one film for a major studio which was the musical Bloodhounds of Broadway. Lot's of behind the scenes footage of Madonna during this segment of the film. Aaron Brookner also covers his Uncle Howard's personal life in detail and has home movie footage that let's us take a look. Howard's life may have been cut short, but his existence has found a new life in Uncle Howard. 
    
Howard's nephew/Uncle Howard director Aaron Brookner took part in a informative Q&A after the screening. Topics during the Q&A included Aaron first meeting Jim Jarmusch, the future release of Howard's second film "Robert Wilson and the Civil Wars", the filming of the documentary, and more.         
 
Uncle Howard still has a Cinetopia screening ahead and that takes place on Saturday, June 11 at The Michigan Theater auditorium in Ann Arbor. Aaron Brookner will take part in a Q&A via Skype following this screening. 

Iggy Pop Live in Basel 2015
What THEY say:
There’s a reason why many consider Iggy Pop the godfather of punk – every single punk band of the past and present has either knowingly or unknowingly borrowed a thing or two from Pop and his late ’60-early ’70 band, the Stooges. Iggy Pop, an outstanding artist known for his outrageous and unpredictable stage antics, sings at the Baloise Session in Basel, Switzerland, where he was honored with a 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award. This fantastic performance features many of Iggy Pop’s top hits, including “I Wanna be Your Dog”, “The Passenger”, “Lust for Life” and many more. –Rising Alternative
 
 
What MCB Says:
Iggy Pop is one of my favorite musicians of all time. It would take two hands to count how many times I have seen him over the years. I have even been fortunate to grace the same stage with him on several occasions. He's one of a kind so this live concert film was surely going to be on my viewing list during the festival.
The 18-song set included the classics as mentioned above as well as songs not performed live as much nowadays including "Five Foot One" and newer Iggy material such as "Skull Ring". Iggy's band for the show includes guitarist Kevin Armstrong (David Bowie, Morrissey), bassist Ben Ellis (The Catherine Wheel), drummer Matt Hector (Thomas Dolby) and keyboardist Seamus Beaghen (Madness, Paul Weller).
Seeing Iggy on such a large screen was a real treat. It was a spectacular visual and the theatre turned up the volume after the first song to really bring the live show feel to the screening. The theatre's audience was getting into it and at times sang along loud enough for me to hear. I even witnessed an audience member breaking the festival rules by taking out his phone to snap a picture or video of what he was witnessing on the screen. Iggy Pop is a phenomenal live performer and this concert film captures what a Iggy Pop show is truly about. Pure energy runs through Iggy's veins. The audience participation during the set is great to watch as well. At one point during the show a couple ladies jump on stage and wrap their arms around Iggy and plant some kisses on his cheek. Even the cell phones of audience members recording and snapping pictures are recording by the film crew and offer a different view of the performance. Editing of the show, though not flawless, is quick and keeps the live concert film far more interesting than any live bootleg material out there. The audio from the show is superb with both Iggy and the band giving the songs their best. 
Iggy Pop Live in Basel 2015 is receiving a wider national theatrical release for just two days next week (June 16 and 18), but the film still has a Cinetopia screening ahead which is taking place on Sunday, June 12 at the Michigan Theater auditorium in Ann Arbor. 

The Cinetopia International Film Festival is running now till Sunday, June 12.
Visit cinetopiafestival.org for full film descriptions, trailers and dates/times/locations of all screenings and events.