DA-PENNEBAKER

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“Daybreak Express” (1953) directed by 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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David Bowie & The Spiders From Mars - Ziggy Stardust - Hammersmith Odeon Theatre - Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars (1973)

Happy Birthday Bowie!

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Song of the Day: Otis Redding - I’ve Been Loving You Too Long

From Monterey Pop

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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.

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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Although Hegedus and Pennebaker observe this neutrally, the film endows the War Room with an honorable glamour. If Stephanopoulos often seems like a sweet, but overbearing altar boy, the campaign’s senior strategist, Carville, is a flat-out movie star — he has the colorful charm of a wisecracking snake in a Pixar movie. Whether he’s joking or rousing the troops, this Ragin’ Cajun is so much fun to listen to that you see why Bill Hader can still bring down the house doing an impression of him on Saturday Night Live.
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On DVD: Inside Bill Clinton’s Campaign ‘War Room’ : NPR

I wanted to say something intelligent here, but all I can think is, 'Dude, without my boyfriend’s parents, would anyone (like, talent agents, the American public) known or given a shit about George and James? Would George and James have, respectively, TV shows and hilarious SNL caricatures without Chris & Penny?’ And I’m obviously possibly biased but I think the answer is resoundingly, no. The War Room made a (well-run, entertaining in itself) political campaign more than just a behind-the-scenes necessity, a crucial but hidden and unglamorous cog in a political machine. It made politics entertainment. And as a result, its long-lasting effects go deeply into both politics (where the strategies and systems of Clinton’s war room, captured in the movie, can and have been used as blueprints and informal case studies for campaigns since) and entertainment (most obviously and recently in the Hulu-produced Battleground, which very clearly and, I think, respectfully, takes its cues from The War Room the movie).

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“Slow Show” by The National

Directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus