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Maestro (2003)

7.1
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 137 users   Metascore: 36/100
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Maestro, tells the story of how a group of people found refuge and a call for life outside the mainstream. What evolved was a scene that set the ground work for what was to come in dance ... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Larry Levan ...
Himself
David Mancuso ...
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Frankie Knuckles ...
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Nicky Siano ...
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Francis Grasso ...
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François Kevorkian ...
Himself (as François K.)
Louis Vega ...
Himself (as 'Little' Louie Vega)
Danny Tenaglia ...
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Tony Humphries ...
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...
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Danny Krivit ...
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Joaquin Joe Claussell ...
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Richard Long ...
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Alex Rosner ...
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...
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Storyline

Maestro, tells the story of how a group of people found refuge and a call for life outside the mainstream. What evolved was a scene that set the ground work for what was to come in dance music culture worldwide, a rare insight into the secret underground world. It's the first time this story is told in a motion Picture, included in the film are pioneer dance music DJs and producers, "founding fathers", its center being Larry Levan, as well as high-profile DJs of today. Opting for a more personal and candid approach, MAESTRO shows the true history of the people through a realistic creative aesthetic. Tracing the underground's dance origin, MAESTRO brings out a real understanding of this intense lifestyle, and the lives they lived and died for. Written by Anonymous

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dance club

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The movement that became dance music of today

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22 February 2003 (UK)  »

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Informative but overlong documentary on New York's Paradise Garage club
20 June 2014 | by See all my reviews

Until the 1970s, the jukebox was the main way of listening to music in New York City clubs, but then DJ-centered dance music as we know it today arose in the legendary venue Paradise Garage. Opening in the disco boom, Paradise Garage quickly became famous for the eclectic music choices of its DJs and later would play a key role in the spread of house music from Chicago to clubs worldwide until it closed in 1987. Josell Ramos's MAESTRO is a 90-minute documentary from 2003 about the Garage, the demographic it drew, and especially the DJ Larry Levan.

The documentary maker goes back to describe The Loft, the invitation-only parties that inspired the Garage, as well as the creation of the 12" record. There is some archival footage, but mainly this is an interview-driven documentary. There are interviews with DJs Antony Ocasio, Nicki Siano, Frankie Knuckles, Tony Humphries, "Little" Louie Vega, Derrick May. Especially shocking is an interview with Francis Grasso, who was only in his early 50s at the time, but worn down by drugs he looks like he's in his 80s (he would die soon after the interview). Also heavily featured are vox pop interviews with people outside a NY club who remember the Garage.

While not dedicating much time to it specifically, MAESTRO aims to depict the prominence of African-Americans and gays (and African-American gays!) in the Garage scene. Viewers whose experience with dance music is the more mainstream form in Europe will probably be surprised by how many men in this documentary talk swish. The impact of AIDS is briefly remembered.

While I enjoyed learning something about the early years of NYC club culture, I was rather disappointed by how padded this documentary was: the main reason that the documentary is 85 minutes long is that the subjects interviewed speak very slowly with a lot of "uh" and "like". If Ramos had approached this material in a different way, he could have tightened things down to an hour.


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