Alfred Lion and Francis Wolff: A Lifetime Love Affair with Jazz

There have been many outstanding and critically acclaimed documentaries on the subject of jazz and jazz musicians over the years from Aram Avakian & Bert Stern’s Jazz on a Summer’s Day (1959) to Bruce Weber’s Let’s Get Lost (1988) and Jean Bach’s A Great Day in Harlem (1994). But what is surprising is the fact that until recently no filmmaker has attempted to document the importance of Blue Note Records and its importance in the advancement of this uniquely American, home grown music. Suddenly, we have two documentaries on the subject, Eric Friedler’s It Must Schwing! The Blue Note Story (2018) and Sophie Huber’s Blue Note Records: Beyond the Notes (2018), both of which are currently on the film festival circuit.  Continue reading

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Silence of the Lamb

The Quiet Room (1996)First person narration in films can be a tricky proposition. Not only can it become monotonous but it can also work against the visual storytelling, imposing a structure on the film that frustrates the viewer’s attempt to interpret and come to their own conclusions about events, characters and dialogue. One of the rare exceptions to this often overused device is Rolf de Heer’s THE QUIET ROOM (1996), the story of a marriage coming apart as told by the couple’s seven year old daughter. Seen from her viewpoint, the increasingly hostile relationship is something she can’t fully comprehend but she decides to take steps to alter her unhappy situation by refusing to speak until her parents reconcile. Despite a highly stylized visual approach (the cinematography is by Tony Clark), THE QUIET ROOM is a simply told but emotionally complex character study with moments of magical realism and a refreshingly unsentimental but compassionate look at how one child reacts to a marriage on the rocks.    Continue reading