At a recent Amherst Cinema screening, one of the most promising previews wasn't for any upcoming major movie, but rather the theater's own Sound and Vision “music in film” series. The Slits' pulsing cover of “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” was the ...
At a recent Amherst Cinema screening, one of the most promising previews wasn’t for any upcoming major movie, but rather the theater’s own Sound and Vision “music in film” series. The Slits’ pulsing cover of “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” was the funky soundtrack for a montage of fun and fascinating music-related films on the way.
The summertime series, curated by general manager George Myers, starts off its third year with “Yellow Submarine,” 1968’s Beatles-inspired animated musical about Pepperland. The classic is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a 4K restoration, done by hand, frame by frame (translation: It’s never looked better, especially if, like me, you last saw it on a squirrelly VHS tape in the ’80s). Wednesday, July 11 at 7 p.m.
“Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami” is a documentary about the iconic Jamaican-American vocalist/songwriter/model/actress Grace Jones, combining musical sequences with never-before-seen personal footage. Her music video for “Demolition Man” forever seared her image into my 13-year-old mind, and she’s still blazing her own unique path — head to YouTube to see her super-stamina hula-hooping performance of “Slave to the Rhythm” from last summer. Wednesday, July 18 at 7 p.m.
Thanks to my mom’s record collection, one of my favorite songs as a kid was Miriam Makeba’s “Pata Pata.” That pop tune, with a chorus in the Xhosa language and spoken English bits, is the signature hit of the legendary South African vocalist, but also just a blip in her 50-plus-year career; the film “Mama Africa: Miriam Makeba,” a documentary directed by Mika Kaurismäki, shines a spotlight on the full breadth of her artistic and personal life, using rare archival performances, as well as interviews with her contemporaries. Wednesday July 25 at 7 p.m.
“Rubén Blades Is Not My Name” is a documentary portrait of the multiple-Grammy-award-winning Panamanian vocalist/actor/activist and salsa star who once ran for president in his home country. It was filmed over a three-year period by director by Abner Benaim, who said, “This film explores what it means to be Panamanian in your soul, what it means to come from a place with a strong identity. What you take with you when you’re abroad. What it means to feel, and to miss that special warmth.” Wednesday, August 1 at 7 p.m.
George Harrison got nicknamed “The Quiet Beatle,” but multiple generations of musicians are vocal about his lasting musical legacy. “Concert for George” is just what it advertises, a concert film starring fellow Beatles Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, as well as Eric Clapton, Tom Petty, Ravi and Anoushka Shankar, Jeff Lynne, members of Monty Python, and many more, all paying tribute to Harrison at a benefit show at the Royal Albert Hall in 2002. Wednesday, August 8 at 7 p.m.
The Slits have been called the world’s first all-girl punk band, and “Here To Be Heard: The Story of The Slits,” spotlights the “pioneering godmothers of punky reggae.” Their debut album “Cut” has a much-talked-about mud-caked cover photo, but the disorientingly original punk/dub/reggae music within is even more unforgettable — it truly sounds like nothing else before or after. Wednesday, August 15 at 7 p.m.
“Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda” delves into the life of the Japanese musician, producer, composer and activist, whose four-decade-long career includes co-founding the pioneering synthesizer-heavy pop band Yellow Magic Orchestra and being an Oscar- and Grammy-winning film composer. Wednesday August 22 at 7 p.m.
Betty Davis was a gritty soul/funk vocalist with an uncompromising vision, insisting on complete control of her music and image — and if you haven’t heard her commanding, dancefloor-filling songs like “Don’t Call Her No Tramp,” get thee to YouTube now and turn it up. Davis disappeared from public life in the ‘80s. “Betty: They Say I’m Different” tells her story. Wednesday, August 29 at 7 p.m.
Kentucky native Lee Sexton, a retired coal miner and banjo legend, and his wife Opal are the eightysomething subjects of “Linefork,” which has been described as a “slow, meditative film” that presents “transcendent, time-stopping moments in the sludgy flow of everyday events.” Directors Vic Rawlings and Jeff Silva will appear in person. Wednesday September 5 at 7 p.m.
“Hit So Hard” tells the “life and near death” story of Patty Schemel, drummer of the band Hole, as she deals with fame and addiction. The film includes Hi8 video footage that Schemel shot while on Hole’s 1994-95 world tour, as well as more recent interviews with her bandmates, family members, and other female drummers and musicians. Schemel will appear in person at the screening. Wednesday, September 12 at 7 p.m.