Session Man (1991) Poster


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Not Just Rock and Roll
john-185928 January 2005
Like a perfect sandwich on a hungry Saturday afternoon, "Session Man" is a short film that knows more than to try to be a 4-course, feature-length 'dinner-sized' movie. Perfect in scope, complete in its resolve, "Session Man" is a totally satisfying film experience ("Most," another short film nominee, 2004, also comes to mind). It also happens to represent a significant turning point in James Remar's screen career.

Perhaps best-known for thug roles (he is superbly menacing opposite Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy in 48 Hours) here Remar portrays a session guitarist named McQueen, a man of veiled, artistic passions. With skills like McQueen's, in a sea of rock and roll cutthroats, a man has to keep his head and guard his dreams.

Remar anchors the storyline like a steady hinge on a wild-swinging, double-jointed restaurant kitchen door. Summoned into a studio milieu as a hired-gun, McQueen is screwed in tight and fixed on his convictions, an versatile artist with mercenary credentials who still hasn't buried his last, best hopes to take part in a thriving, permanent collaboration. Under the stress of a recording deadline, the session player must be instantaneously brilliant. Most people spend their lives avoiding that kind of pressure, McQueen seems born for it.

The contrast is where the film shines. How does a man fully cloak his fire, assured that he can turn on the furnace at the exact moment he needs to bring the heat? And then, once the heat is exposed (making him vulnerable to colder souls) how does he keep his wits in a world of shifting allegiances? Remar is front and center, even in McQueen's background moments, from the first beat to the last, and for a short-format film, the story offers a surprisingly wide character arc for him to traverse.

For Remar, there is the aching irony of hitting such a penetrating bullseye in a such a rarely-seen Oscar-winner while playing a character of prodigious ability who yearns for the shot at a genuine, long-distance flight in the cramped skies of rock and roll.

One of my all-time favorite live-action shorts, this film dwarfed the competition in its Academy category in 1991. I saw all the short film nominees in one sitting at an AMPAS screening that year; "Session Man" was the only one that stirred in my imagination every day for weeks afterward. To this day, I've only seen the film one time, but I couldn't help but feel that "Session Man" and James Remar were two incredible quantities that crossed paths at precisely the perfect moment - I can't imagine one without the other.

Why is this film not more readily available to the public? The time is right for the release of award-winning, short-format film compilations on DVD.
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Perfect…wait let me think again……yep…perfect.
Doctor_Bombay2 March 1999
Short films usually start behind the eight ball-the reason they're ‘short' is generally lack of funds and/or lack of experience. But when you see a short film produced by Chanticleer you know you're watching a film by the very best, a company that takes pride in this medium, and excels in it.

When a short film clicks, it's poetry in motion--quick, to the point, boom, boom, boom--the story drives forward, the viewer caught up in it all.

If I've seen Session Man once, I've seen it fifty times, really--it's just that good-no nuance unexplored, or ignored, a beautiful combination of drama and music. It doesn't hurt that it's a great film about rock n roll music-what a rarity that is.
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You love rock'n'roll? You've played in a band? See this one!
simenkv12 July 2001
It's a couple of years since I last saw it, but nevertheless...

This film is simply put great. Chanticleer films have a good reputation, and that's not a coincidence! The acting in Session Man is great, the music is great (e.g. All Day And All Of The Night by the Kinks in a _great_ version), the story is great --- simply put, a well spent hour. Lean back, crank up the volume, pop a beer or something. Enjoy it!

As I've played in a rock'n'roll band, I felt my fingers actually moving when McQueen played the guitar and the music _worked_. (Musicians know what I mean here.) The finger-sync is unbelievable, and this adds too the feeling of course. Nothing is as annoying as bad finger-sync in a music film.

The story touches a musician's heart, but it goes beyond that --- it's a story with deep implications. Giving and taking, lost hopes and all that.
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Session Man for the Ages
aiteacher6 April 2005
I use this film in my composition classes because it perfectly tells a compelling story and contains many issues that pertain to everyone: how does one succeed and how does one know it; does one play for the love of something or does one do it for money; what is loyalty and what is friendship; do groups exist for themselves or are they anarchists, and so on. And the music is pure, lovely, driving rock. I would give it a 10, but it is not quite at the level of a Tolstoy short story, but close. James Remar is marvelous in this brief but memorable film. Kudos to the writer and director and actors and production crew. This film brings up an important issue which is the unavailability of Short live subject films. With so much good stuff around each year, why do I have to rely on cable programs that fill dead time slots. They never advertise these items, and it was with luck I caught Session Man.
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Looking for a copy of this movie to buy.
guitarman6720713 January 2006
Where can I buy a copy of this film? I only saw it once many years ago, and being a guitar player I have never been able to get it out of my head. It's as true as true gets. Every thing about this movie speaks to those of us who struggle to justify all that we go through as musicians. Just recently events in my life have me asking the same questions that the movie illustrates. I have looked all over the internet and have been unable to find a copy of this movie for sale. You would think that being an Acadamy award winner there would be a big enough market for a film such as this. I think it speaks volumes about what it's like what we go through not only as artist, but also life itself. Thanks in advance for any help I can get in finding this film.

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Not too bad, but also not awards-worthy
Horst_In_Translation26 January 2017
Warning: Spoilers
"Session Man" is an American short film from 1991, so this one had its 25th anniversary last year. Writer and director is the late Seth Winston and this one here is probably the only film he is known for as despite it winning an Academy Award, he never really managed to break through afterward. The title already gives a way slightly what this half hour is about. The protagonist has to fill in at a successful music group when one of their musicians quits in a fit of anger. As the group is really successful, the central character quickly hopes that this may be his chance to have a good career for himself, but is this really how things will turn out? Watch for yourself. The main character here is played by Chris Manning and I personally don't know him, but there are semi-famous names to the cast here as well, such as James Remar. Anyway, overall, this was an okay little film with some decent music too, but honestly, even for 30 minutes the story seemed to be not enough and there were a few lengths. Six out of ten is definitely on the more generous side here and even if I recommend checking it out, there is no way this is really an Oscar-worthy work.
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