Doc News: “The Thin Blue Line”, R.J. Cutler, Cee Lo Green

– Last week Errol Morris tweeted the first major report of the passing of Randall Dale Adams, who had died of a brain tumor in October at age 61. Adams was one of the two main subjects of Morris’ classic “The Thin Blue Line,” he being the wrongfully imprisoned man who was exonerated in part by the film itself. He had spent 12 years behind bars for a Dallas police officer’s murder he didn’t commit. After his release he sued the filmmaker over the rights to his story, which seemed a bit like biting the hand that unlocks your prison cell, and after that he disappeared from limelight (Morris stopped talking to him after the legal matter) and apparently ended up in Ohio, in a city called Washington Court House, where he died. Since Morris’ tweet more lengthy reports and obituaries, such as this one in the NY Times, have gone out. One of the most famous documentary figures of all time, it’s sad to hear this news. If you’ve somehow never seen “Thin Blue Line,” it’s on Netflix Instant. In lieu of a decent clip from the film, check out a bit of Philip Glass’s score after the jump, specifically “Adams’ Theme.”

Read more of this post

Trailer: “Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest”

After the poster for “Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest” hit last week, I knew the trailer couldn’t be too far off. Of course, Sony (or was it just Yahoo!?) got the film’s recognizable actor-turned-director, Michael Rapaport, to introduce the ad, because stars can sometimes sell audiences on documentaries. Sure, the members of A Tribe Called Quest are stars in their own right, but Rapaport’s goofy face will have you smiling and drawn in before you even spot Q-Tip, Phife and Ali Shaheed Muhammad on the screen (following or intercut quickly with some more famous people like Common, Ludacris, Questlove, Pharell Williams and Beastie Boys). By the time the “Can I Kick It?” beats explode, you’re probably already hooked.

But if not, let me remind you all that this is not just a typical music biopic and being a fan of Tribe or any hip-hop is not required. The drama of this group, through its back story and more direct, current documentation, is must see stuff for anyone who enjoys movies. Rapaport has an inquisitive eye in doc-making I wouldn’t have pegged him for, and the result is one of the best non-fiction films of the year. Check out my review from Sundance for more praise and watch the trailer for the film, which opens July 8, over at Yahoo! Movies.

 

Poster: “Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest”

Another favorite doc from Sundance is “Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest,” which was impressively directed by actor Michael Rapaport. In my review of the film I stated that it transcends the rap group’s base audience to succeed as one of the best music docs in years, possibly the best since “Dig!” An excerpt from that review:

In spite of its familiar overlying narrative, though, the new documentary about the rap group, lengthily titled ‘Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest,’ is still an excellent look at the past, present and possible future of one of the most influential hip hop acts of all time. Directed very inquisitively and skillfully by actor-turned-filmmaker Michael Rapaport (‘True Romance’), it starts out rather conventionally and builds into one of the most engaging music docs in years.

Now via The Playlist we’ve got a look at the doc’s poster and while I understand that it’s consistent with A Tribe Called Quest’s albums as well as the animated sequences in the film, I’m not completely into the design.  I think it reads awkwardly with those street signs in the way of the flow of the subtitle. But that’s just me being picky. Anyway, it doesn’t affect my recommendation and it shouldn’t affect your need to go see this when it opens July 8 (and rolls-out from then).

See a larger version of the poster after the jump.

Read more of this post

Tribe Called Quest Doc Hitting Theaters via Sony Pictures Classics

Of all the docs showing at Sundance this year, Michael Rapaport’s “Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest” was the only one friends back home were curious about. Maybe I just know more people into hip hop than are into chimps, physician-assisted suicide or the New York Times. Fortunately, those friends can soon see for themselves that it’s one of the best music docs in some time. Sony Pictures Classics has picked up distribution rights to the film, hopefully for theatrical release sometime this year.

Here is an excerpt from my review for Cinematical:

Obviously fans of A Tribe Called Quest are going to appreciate and enjoy this documentary, but as merely a minor follower of their music I think I can attest that it transcends that base audience. Once Rapaport brings us up to speed with more recently shot footage covering a behind the scenes peek at Tribe’s participation in the 2008 Rock the Bells tour, the confrontational moments have a dramatic power not unlike those seen in Ondi Timoner’s widely accessible ‘Dig!’