5 items from 2008
Wild crow she’s a rabbit
She tells you she’s a crow
She smiles her sea-shell smile on you
Like she was your very own
She ain’t no Picasso
She ain’t no Bill Monroe
She plays lead guitar with history
But she looks like rock & roll!
—Eric Anderson, “Wild Crow Blues” (For Patti Smith)
In 1975, I arrived in San Francisco with one suitcase in hand, $20 in my pocket and a heart full of dreams. I found a job as a busboy at Fanny’s Cabaret in the Castro, rented a room from an acquaintance for $100 a month, and used one of my first paychecks to buy Patti Smith’s Horses, which was all the rage at that time. At parties in the Haight people were smoking marijuana, hazing out on angel dust and Lsd, and Patti’s voice was the raw serenade ubiquitously pulsing through it all. »
- Michael Guillen
In the '70s, Patti Smith was part of a fledging New York punk scene that leaned as hard on the artsy side of music-making as the visceral and noisy. Smith was a rock critic before she took to the stage, and her 1975 debut album, Horses, was her most sublime piece of rock criticism, as energetic and self-aware as a work from French cinema's New Wave (a movement itself advanced by critics). Smith quoted Van Morrison and Wilson Pickett while getting under the skin of their songs, explicating the deeper meanings without losing the sexual thrust. Photographer Steven Sebring is a longtime friend of Smith's, and he spent 10 years piecing together Patti Smith: Dream Of Life, a fans-only document of rock's premier poet. But while Sebring gained amazing access to Smith's world tours and family life, very little about the finished product suggests it should've taken a decade »
- Noel Murray
- After a hugely successful Sundance film festival, it is to Cannes that the Paris-based Celluloid Dreams is looking towards with the hopes of finding a three peat victory with the Dardenne's latest. The Dardenne film is what we are most looking forward to seeing, the same goes for the Sundance winner, the IFC film Ballast and Director Fortnight's Better things. Ballast by Lance Hammer - Completed Better Things by Duane Hopkins - Completed Bob Marley: Exodus 77 by Anthony Wall - Completed Dog Eat Dog (Perro Come Perro) by Carlos Moreno - Completed Flow : For Love Of Water by Irena Salina - Completed Le Voyage Aux PYRÉNÉES by Arnaud Larrieu,... - Completed Lorna's Silence (Le Silence De Lorna) by Jean-Pierre Dardenne,... - Completed Mark Of An Angel (L'empreinte De L'ange) by Safy Nebbou - Completed Mia And The Migoo by Jacques-Rémy Girerd - Completed Patti Smith: Dream Of Life »
24 January 2008 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »
COLOGNE, Germany -- Sex, politics and rock 'n' roll are the themes running through this year's Panorama, the Berlin International Film Festival's main sidebar.
Parvez Sharma's A Jihad For Love, which will open Panorama's documentary section, Dokumente, looks at the conflict between sexuality and religion by examining the lives of devout Muslims who are homosexual. The film was produced by Sandi Dubowski, who looked at similar issues among gay orthodox Jews in Trembling Before G-d. That film debuted in Panorama in 2001 and won Berlin's Teddy award for the best film with a homosexual theme.
Sexual politics are at the core of several Dokumente entries including Dondu Kilic's The Other Istanbul, Suddenly, Last Winter from Italian directors Gustav Hofer and Luca Ragazzi, Jochen Hick's East/West and "Dead Gay Men and Living Lesbians" by Berlin's own Rosa von Praunheim.
Middle East politics is the focus of Eran Riklis' Lemon Tree, the drama that opens the Panorama Special section. The film looks at the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through the eyes of a Palestinian woman who inherits a lemon grove bordering on Israeli territory.
Other high-profile Panorama Special screenings include Brad Anderson's Transsiberian, featuring Woody Harrelson, Thomas Kretschmann and Ben Kingsley, and the world premiere of Madonna's directorial debut, Filth & Wisdom starring Richard E. Grant.
Madonna won't be the only pop star featured on this year's Panorama. Legendary punk princess Patti Smith will give a concert in the German capital to support the Panorama debut of Steven Sebring's documentary Patti Smith: Dream of Life. Ceri Levy's Bananaz follows Britpop regulars Damon Alban and Jamie Hewlett, creators of the virtual band Gorillaz. »
23 January 2008 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »
Sundance Film Festival
PARK CITY -- Twelve years in the making, Patti Smith: Dream of Life is a unique record of an artist's journey.
The first film by fashion photographer Steven Sebring, it stitches together layer upon layer of human experience to paint a portrait of the artist as a tireless and dynamic worker for music, poetry, peace, family and friends.
A knowledge of Smith's landmark contribution as a rock 'n' roll pioneer is not essential, and the film should be a joy for anyone interested in pop culture of the past 40 years.
Sebring does not take a conventional route here, which is fitting for his subject. The long gestation period for the film has afforded an intimacy and ease that allows him to penetrate Smith's inner and outer worlds, weaving back and forth in time from her arrival in New York in the late 1960s to raising her two children in Detroit with husband Fred Sonic Smith to her triumphant return to performing in the mid-'90s. Structure is anchored in the bedroom of Smith's cluttered New York apartment and jumps around from there as she reflects on her life and art.
First stop is a poignant visit to the lived-in house she shared with her husband and kids in Detroit until his death in 1994. In fact, much of the film deals with friends who are no longer alive, but the tone is elegiac, not morbid. So when she pulls out a vial of Robert Mapplethorpe's ashes or talks about William Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg, she is just honoring their influence. When she visits the graves of her mentors, William Blake and Arthur Rimbaud, she sees herself as part of a living tradition of poetry.
"We all have a voice", she says, "and the responsibility to use it."
New York is central to her life and the film, and there is some wonderful archival footage from the early '70s, where she talks about how she had to leave her childhood home, across from a square dance hall in South Jersey, and venture to the big city to discover her voice. Later she reads her poem, Prayer for New York.
Although there are some classic scenes of her onstage in the heyday of the Manhattan punk club CBGB, this is not a performance film; it's more meditative and musing than about her music. There are no big, show-stopping moments, but there are some lovely, smaller ones.
In one scene, she and her old friend and lover Sam Shepard sit in the corner of her apartment playing vintage guitars, singing the blues tune Sitting on Top of the World as Sebring focuses on their feet tapping time in unison. Later, when Smith visits her elderly and entertaining parents in New Jersey, there is a shot held for several seconds of the couple holding hands, and in the background we hear the sound of a ticking clock as if it's counting off their time together.
Sebring follows Smith around the world as she visits the Middle East and listens to the music of Muslims and Jews praying, Buddhist monks chanting in Japan and speeches at a peace rally in Washington. He shot most of the footage himself in 16 millimeter, some in color, some in black and white, and the varied looks and textures help give the film character. Skillful editing by Angelo Corrao and Lin Polito pull the divergent threads together from what was obviously a massive amount of material.
Throughout, Smith's approachability keeps it real. When a fan steps onto an elevator with her, she laughs when she's called a rock icon. That's for Mount Rushmore. She's a working artist, and like another one of her heroes, Walt Whitman, she's writing for young poets who years from now may be inspired by this beautiful record of her life's work.
PATTI SMITH: DREAM OF LIFE
Clean Socks and Thirteen/WNET New York
Director: Steven Sebring
Producers: Steven Sebring, Martha Smilow, Scott Vogel
Director of cinematography: Phillip Hunt, Steven Sebring
Editor: Angelo Corrao, Lin Polito
Running time -- 109 minutes
No MPAA rating
5 items from 2008
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