|Mick, Keith, and Brian on the road in 1965: "Blimey! Is Tim gonna write about shepherd's pie again?!"|
This might be the most difficult list for me to compile. I haven't set foot in a cinema since 2010, when I went to see The Runaways at whatever that theater is a block over from Amoeba Records on Sunset, the one that used to be the Cinerama. The ticket, the "artisan" hot dog, and the soda were all overpriced as fuck, and the film was a TV movie of the week on a big screen, despite the actors playing Joan Jett and Kim Fowley really nailing those characters.
Besides, I've got no interest in most of the crap being pushed outta Hollywood. Increasingly, I'd rather watch something indie or a documentary, if I watch new films at all.
Which is why the only new films I can recommend from last year have to be a pair of Rolling Stones documentaries: The new edit of Charlie Is My Darling and Crossfire Hurricane.
I had seen a bootleg video of Charlie Is My Darling nearly 20 years ago. I'd picked it up at friend's record shop in New Orleans when I was playing there with The Hormones. It was a legendary, unreleased documentary the Stones' manager Andrew Loog Oldham commissioned, capturing the band on the road in Ireland as "Satisfaction" made huge stars of the band in 1965. That was all fine and well. But the new version of this unreleased film? Superior in every way: Sharper picture from the digital remastering, for one. And this edit is much better cinema. There's some of the best vintage performance footage of the Stones this side of The TAMI Show, for one. It totally captures the amphetamined sex storm they kicked up with a live audience in their heyday. Then it captures the distinct lack of glamour on the inside of the Rolling Stones: This was work. This is a working band. Ultimately, what really makes Charlie Is My Darling pop is extensive, candid, revealing Brian Jones interview footage used throughout. You truly get a sense of what the Rolling Stones lost when they pushed Brian away.
Crossfire Hurricane, however, is an epic. The band's story gets told for the umpty-umpth time, through current interviews and vintage footage both, most of which has never been seen before. The band do not appear onscreen at all for the interviews; you get these disembodied, elderly voices narrating in their cracked, phlegmy glory, a marvelous contrast to the youth unfolding onscreen. Yes, you really do mostly get The Rolling Stones Legend And Myth here, with the attendant varnish and ego-maintenance you don't get in Charlie Is My Darling (which also provides much of the early footage). And The Ron Wood Years are barely a blip on this radar - you'd be forgiven for thinking the band ended with Some Girls, going by this. But this is the first time the story of the Stones has ever made the cinematic sense it deserved. Which makes this a great movie, even if it's a bit self-serving as a documentary. Ultimately, I dig Crossfire Hurricane, and watch it often. And you're talking to a guy who has watched a lot of Rolling Stones footage in his time. Excellent.