DA-PENNEBAKER

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On the heels of the Super Bowl car commercial, it’s important to be reminded that Bob Dylan doesn’t care what anyone thinks, now and forever. There’s perhaps no greater evidence of this than his documentary, “Eat the Document.”

For those unfamiliar with it, the film chronicles Dylan’s 1966 tour with the Band. Edited by Dylan despite having no prior film experience, it was never released because ABC deemed it incomprehensible for a mainstream audience. In ABC’s defense, it’s clear he was trying to get across something about the disorienting experience of a rock tour at his level, but really, it’s plenty comprehensible.

Highlights: Robbie Robertson’s suit at 21:59, Johnny Cash and Dylan duetting on “I Still Miss Someone” at 23:21, Richie Manuel trying to trade his jacket and a can opener for a pretty lady at 39:56, and John Lennon & Dylan on some potent substances in the backseat of a car at 45:32

At the peak of my Dylan fandom about 15 years ago, I wanted to see this so badly that I paid $25 for a VHS copy from some guy on ebay. It came with a bunch of bonus footage of that Lennon scene, which you can see here.

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The Museum of the Moving Image hosted Spectacle, an exhibition about the history of the music video. They showed DA Pennebaker’s incredible “Daybreak Express” which could possible be considered the first music video. Along with many of the ususal suspects - the ever-inventive Michel Gondry, Shynola, Chris Cunningham, there were a lot of cool clips I’d never seen before and original props and artifacts from videos.

This weekend at cinefamily—a full slate of screenings, interactive exhibits, workshops, and molecular gastronomy!

The exploratorium, founded by physicist/educator Frank Oppenheimer in San Francisco in 1969, may well be the most important science museum to open in the 20th century. And certainly the most fun. 

Their Cinema Arts program has used film in imaginative ways to ignite curiosity while encouraging exploration and learning. This weekend s proud to premiere a new preservation of Jon Boorstin’s Exploratorium (1974), and to host a slate of experimental film selected by the Cinema Arts program’s Kathleen Maguire and Samuel Sharkey.

Plus a “mini” Exploratorium in the Cinefamily’s Spanish patio, featuring The Sweet Science, a dessert bar with flavor-tripping treats like liquid nitrogens ice cream and taste-modifying miracle berries.

The Cinefamily and The Academy Film Archive presents
Cinema & The Exploratorium: Science/Art/Perception/Discovery
Friday November 8 - Sunday November 10

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David Bowie & The Spiders From Mars - Ziggy Stardust - Hammersmith Odeon Theatre - Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars (1973)

Happy Birthday Bowie!

Boomer Audit: D.A. Pennebaker Invents the Music Festival in ‘Monterey Pop by Elisabeth Donnelly

When the “Boomer Audit” was scheduled as a theme week — absolutely fair as we’re hitting the 45th anniversary of Woodstock — I felt relatively skeptical about it, as I have been lucky enough to live a life devoid of boomer values infecting my everyday existence, at least when it comes to my immediate family. My parents were the Silent Generation, born between the World Wars. As a result, while my peers had parents who were ex-hippies, with books like How to Tell Your Kids No When You Said Yes on their bookshelves, well, my parents, slightly older than the other parents, had missed out on that culture as they were too busy raising children and surviving.

So I have no sacred cows to murder in response to the idea that “Bob Dylan was a prophet, man,” or any of the other hoary old saws your boomer dad is likely to unleash after he’s had too many beers. What is a Dylan? Is he like The Kingston Trio or The Clancy Brothers? No? I didn’t see Jimi at Woodstock, I didn’t really get it in its context, even though he was a hot dude with amazing guitar talent. For me, boomer culture was just more in the background of pop — the way that Forrest Gump‘s soundtrack was the 60s classic rock station in a nutshell, the way that The Mamas and the Papas’ “California Dreamin’” felt like a cliche until Wong Kar-Wai made it new in Chungking Express.

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Movie was D.A. Pennebaker’s “Don’t Look Back”

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Otis Redding, Shake, Live at the Monterey International Pop Festival 1967. I would love to have been there to see the looks on the hippies’ faces when Otis went to town on their sandal-wearing tie-dyed asses. Woodstock gets all the love, but Monterey will always be my music-festival-of-yore-time-machine destination.

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Holy shit, THE WAR ROOM. Follows senior Clinton campaign staff from ‘92 primaries to his unlikely landslide win on election night. Getting to peek inside presidential politics pre-cell phone is incredible. Young, jean-jacketed George Stephanopoulos is the coolest, young James Carville reveals himself a genius as the brain & motivational center of the campaign. His speech to staff on election night choked me the F up. If you devour Veep/House of Cards like I’ve been and enjoy the 1990’s, its a must C.

On this day, September 9th, in 1941: Otis Redding was born in Dawson, GA.

Today’s soundtrack: The sweet sounds of the King of Soul.

Today’s screening: D. A. Pennebaker’s MONTEREY POP, with my main man, Albert Maysles on one of the cameras.

Today’s book club: Peter Guralnick’s SWEET SOUL MUSIC

Today’s quote: “Basically, I like any music that remains simple and I feel this is the formula that makes ‘soul music’ successful. When any music form becomes cluttered and/or complicated you lose the average listener’s ear. There is nothing more beautiful than a simple blues tune. There is beauty in simplicity whether you are talking about architecture, art or music.”

Today’s ill-advised tattoos:
http://tinyurl.com/op7b6pz
http://tinyurl.com/lfx8wbj
http://tinyurl.com/k8rjg79

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"Daybreak Express" (1953) directed by DA Pennebaker.

Don’t Look Back, DA Pennebaker’s 1968 documentary featuring Bob Dylan, is one of the first, and ultimately most revealing, movies about bands.

It is the reason that Metallica’s James Hetfield will discuss drinking vodka and shooting bears in Some Kind of Monster and how Ondi Timoner can get up close to human tornado The Brian Jonestown Massacre’s Anton Newcombe.

"I’m just a guitar player," says Dylan wryly as he navigates his 1965 UK tour.

Dylan is incredibly aware of the camera and while there are obviously moments where he is acting up, picking on Donovan and regularly sounding like a proto-Russell Brand-style truthsayer, there are hugely sweet glimpses including him intimately chatting to teenage fans and knocking off a haunting version of It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue.

Pennebaker, as well as filmmakers such as Albert Maysles, opened the door for a thousand movies about bands and this list would certainly look differently without Don’t Look Back.

Congrats to Doc Legend D.A. Pennebaker for Winning an Honorary Academy Award

Late last night the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences announced the four men who will be receiving special Oscars this fall at the 4th Annual Governors Awards dinner, and among the names is D.A. Pennebaker, a very deserving cinema legend who has been one of the leading figures in documentary filmmaking for the past fifty years.

Here’s the description of Pennebaker from the Academy’s press release, which highlights why he’s getting an Honorary Academy Award :

D. A. Pennebaker, a pioneer of modern nonfiction film, has directed more than 20 feature-length documentaries, including “Don’t Look Back,” “Monterey Pop,” “Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars,” “Moon over Broadway,” “Kings of Pastry" and "The War Room,” for which he received an Oscar® nomination. During his career of more than six decades, Pennebaker has inspired generations of filmmakers with his “you are here” style. He is considered one of the founders of the cinéma vérité movement, beginning with his collaboration on the seminal 1960 film “Primary.”

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