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[Welcome to the Fourth Wall, CHIRP's weekly e-conversation on cinema. This week's subject is the Terrence Malick film Song to Song. This edition is written by CHIRP Radio volunteers Kevin Fullam and Clarence Ewing.]
Kevin: Music reviews have never done much for me. Besides the fact that I find music to be a much more subjective art form than, say, narrative fiction, I simply have a hard time translating a paragraph or three about an album into an actual sound. Let me have a listen, and within a couple of minutes, I'll know whether I want to hear more.
Why am I mentioning this? Because I view Terrence Malick's last few films in the same light, from the acclaimed The Tree of Life (2011) to the new Song To Song. One knows early on whether Malick's style is for them, and I don't think it's possible for me to do his brand justice via print. His recent works all share an ephemeral quality which has polarized audiences and critics alike, featuring scenes that seem to have no clearly-defined beginning or end, oodles of internal monologues, and a dearth of exposition. (You'd think the monologues would actually translate into more exposition, but the voice-overs don't have much to do with the actual action on screen; more often, they're ruminations on life in general.)
Quick recap: BV (Ryan Gosling) and Faye (Rooney Mara) are budding singer/songwriters in Austin, Texas, where they're embroiled in a love triangle with big-time producer Cook (Michael Fassbender). The three pick up new significant others of varying durations, reflect on their aspirations and regrets, and bump into real-life celebs (including Patti Smith, Iggy Pop, and Val Kilmer, among others) along the way.
[Introducing The Fourth Wall, a new CHIRP Radio series featuring discussions about movies and other things worth talking about. The first conversation is by CHIRP Radio volunteers Clarence Ewing (listen to his radio show on Sundays form 2pm-4pm Central Time) and Kevin Fullam (film blogger and podcaster extraordinarie).]
CE: Hello, Kevin! Here it is, our new series where we’re going to talk about the movies. Many thanks for conceiving of this idea. I feel like, in our own small way, we can carry on in the Chicago tradition of Siskel and Ebert and, through conversation and kicking around ideas, gain some insight into a subject we enjoy.
I thought we could start things off by talking about movies in general. There was a time when I was almost as obsessed with movies as I was (and still am) with music. I even got THIS CLOSE to getting my own film production company off the ground a bunch of years ago. It fell apart like most startups with no money tend to do, but I learned some valuable lessons from the experience, as well as an appreciation for how hard it is to finance and make even the smallest, lowest-budget project.
[The CHIRP Radio Movie Collection documents our favorite movies that feature music or musicians.]
The Blues Brothers (1980)
The Plot: Two brothers (played by Dan Akroyd and John Belushi) put their old band back together in a quest to raise money to save the orphanage where they were raised.
This is a movie that remains one of the more successful film adaptations of a “Saturday Night Live” sketch. Unlike most most movies that started out as SNL ideas, this one feels like an actual film put together by actual film makers. The movie is elevated by several effectively staged stunts and car chases as the Brothers tear their way from Joliet prison to Chicago’s Loop while being chased by everyone from highway patrolmen to neo-Nazis.
It’s been 20 years since a young Columbia College film student named Jay Bliznick established a film festival that would spotlight creative film and video work outside of the system that supports major Hollywood players and elitist distributor events. For him and others who share his passion for film and desire to see new, original projects, years of dedication and effort have established the Chicago Underground Film Festival as one of the most respected and anticipated annual events for cinephiles, movie buffs, and anyone else who wants to see the kind of independent, experimental, and documentary work that doesn't make it into the local metroplex.
This year’s festival will treat audiences to outstanding work from the past and present. In the words of Festival Coordinator Lori Felker, ”We've got a really energizing mix of films from the past 20 years mixed in with current in-competition films. It really gives you a sense of how broad the definition of ‘underground’ is, how weird ‘weird' can get, and interesting and talented people are.”