Here’s a random sampling of a few of the films Sound Unseen has to offer this year:
Plaster Caster (2000)
Directed by Jessica Villines
A self-termed “cockumentary,” Plaster Caster is a look into the life of Cynthia Plaster Caster (last name legally changed to avoid mother’s wrath), an extremely likeable fifty-something groupie who, for the past thirty years, has immortalized the penises of some of the world’s most famous rock stars in plaster. Bear with me. What started as a desperate groupie’s attempt to get back stage, has turned into an accepted form of “art,” complete with a gallery showing in New York. Legitimacy aside, the hilarity of watching as self-effaced rockers try to justify the dwarfing of their comparatively microscopic members next to the veritable totem pole of the legendary Jimmy Hendrix is alone worth the price of admission. But, hey, size doesn’t matter. Right?
Directed by Alan Zweig
Hard-core record collecting has nothing to do with the music. It is an obsessive-compulsive disorder, a co-dependent problem and a serious addiction. Documentary filmmaker and collector Alan Zweig analyzes the relationship between a man and his wax in Vinyl. During the course of the bittersweet film, Zweig points the camera at his own reflection as well as his fellow junkies, including one man hoping to collect every song in the world and another who can’t even bear to listen to his piles of records. Zweig decides the urge to amass large quantities of albums is a symptom of darker disease.
The Atlas Moth (2001)
Directed by Rolf Belgum
Everyone has dreams. Most surrender them to the cold sting of reality. In The Atlas Moth, the sequel to the locally acclaimed Driver 23, we are introduced to three midwestern guys who refuse to submit to “the real world.” Through bankruptcies, lost loves and uncertainties, the members of the heavy metal band Dark Horse find their
destinies. Lead singer Dan Cleveland, drummer Jon Mortenson and bassist Sean Cassidy each have their own individual desires and passions aside from the music. And these three, each with their unique passion, gather together in Cleveland’s kitchen with a singular resolve to succeed. They might not have the backing of MTV, nor the flare of U2, but The Atlas Moth captures the essence of music-an art that binds, frees, inspires and makes these three together better than any of them could have been alone. Shows with The Ballad of Little Roger Mead.
Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains (1981)
Directed by Lou Adler
“If you’re not yourself, you’re nobody.” That’s what Corrinne Burns tells us as she earns her punk/glam band, The Fabulous Stains, a one-way ticket out of slumsville U.S.A. to fame. For Corrinne, being yourself means wearing see-through blouses, lots of eye makeup and dying a blonde stripe through her jet black hair. The “skunk” look unfortunately caught on among young female fans, who also took up her message for women to rebel against complacency. This look at fads and bad hair that was the eighties chronicles the Stains’ rise to stardom as they try to stick to “just rock ‘n’ roll and the truth.” From the stage, Corrine urges her followers not to “put out,” or not give in to society’s pressures and live life for the moment. It’s a good thing her
message of feminine empowerment
lasted longer than her hairdo. Shows with Stains: Behind the Movie.
Style Wars (1983)
Directed by Henry Chalfant and Tony Silver
“Taki 183.” Mean anything to you? How about “Seen?” Well, those nome de plumes were once infamous. It’s from a while ago, but Style Wars remains a great documentary on the spray painting and break-dancing subculture of 1983 New York City. Style Wars recalls a more innocent era where gangs were formed based on artistry and dance moves. A time when Grand Master Flash fueled the bodies of youth and Mayor Ed Koch issued the campaign, “Make your mark in society, not on it.” Style Wars is a time capsule, far from where we are. Today, graffiti is dying (although Europe still holds a candle) and no-talent, whorish dance clubs are eradicating the fine art of break-dancing. As the narrator succinctly points out, “The idea of style, and competing for all forms of style, is the key to rocking.” Style Wars is a slice of life that is irreproducible and not to be missed. Especially the dance contest between the “Dynamic Rockers” and “Rock Steady.”