Archive for the ‘Documentary’ Category

Director: David Grohl

Stars: Trent Reznor, Tom Petty, Mick Fleetwood, David Grohl, Rick Rubin

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To make music nowadays, all one needs is a laptop and some Pro Tools-like software. Back in the all or nothing-days, you needed a fully equipped music studio, and more importantly, gifted and talented people and musicians. Making music was a complicated work, which not only involved lots of equipment, more than anything it was a process of creation between people, coming together in one place, trying to find that moment of magic and taking it from there.

This is a documentary about one of those places, probably one of the most legendary of them all: Sound City. No one less than uber-Foo Fighter Dave Grohl took it upon himself to bring us the story of this place where more than 100 certified gold and platinum records were recorded. Sound City started in 1969 in Van Nuys, Los Angeles. Its first marking points were the recordings of Neil Young and Fleetwood Mac’s debut albums in the early and mid-seventies. They were soon followed by a flock of seventies rock legends. Sound City wasn’t a shiny, fancy music palace. If anything, it was a dump, with hideous brown carpet on the walls, but also with a very particular recording sound and managed by people who loved what they were doing. During the eighties Sound City had trouble keeping up with the first wave of digitalized music. The overproduced hair-band rock sound was miles away from what Sound City was about. It wasn’t until the recording of Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind’ that the place re-boomed.

Thank you Dave, for letting us mortals have a peak at one of rock music’s most sacred places.

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Director: Amy Berg

Actors: Damien Wayne Echols, Jessie Misskelley, Jason Baldwin, Eddie Vedder, Henry RollinsPeter Jackson

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I didn’t really think I was going to talk about documentaries here, but that was before I found out about the ‘West Memphis 3‘, a few months ago. The West Memphis 3 were three teenagers from West Memphis, Arkansas, who were wrongfully convicted for the murders of three 8-year old boys, back in 1993. ‘West of Memphis’ is the fourth documentary dedicated to this case. The first one dates back to 1996 (Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills). I stumbled upon it by coincidence and after seeing it I immediately watched part 2 and 3 as well. (Paradise Lost 2: Revelations (2000) and Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory (2011)). The three teenagers’ sentences ranged from life imprisonment to the death penalty. Because of the documentaries, the case got even more media coverage and caught the attention of a few celebrities like Eddie Vedder, Henry Rollins and Peter Jackson who started giving their support to the defendants  . Finally, the West Memphis 3 were released last year.

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All four documentaries basically cover the same issues, though new facts appear and are added to the story over the years: three teenage boys (Jessie Misskelley, Damien Echols and Jason Baldwin) are accused and convicted of a triple child-murder without any real evidence against them. Damien Echols was held accountable by the  local police and justice department, based on a forced confession and his interest in the occult, the two others basically because they hung out with him. The murder of the three boys was, according to local authorities, a satanic ritual. The catastrophic incompetence of the local authorities is exposed: evidence against other possible suspects is overlooked or simply ignored, judges and prosecutors try to make a name for themselves at the expense of the defendants. It is the ultimate example of a modern-day witch-trial. I’m not going to sum up all the facts that are presented, that would be too much, you can find all of that on the web. I will say this though: the story of the West Memphis 3 and the child murders at Robin Hood Hills is one of justice failure, abuse of power and ignorance, but also about courage, solidarity and standing up against injustice. Of course, all of that doesn’t bring back the 3 young boys who were killed, and on top of that, their killer is still out there.

To fully comprehend the entire story and background of this case, one should watch all four documentaries. Not only to get all the facts, but because they are spread out over such a long period of time (from 1993 until 2012) it gives you a genuine feel of how long this flagrant injustice went on. You see the three boys as teenagers in the first parts, when they are finally released, they are men in their thirties.