Category Archives: New York Film Festival

NYFF 07 Review – The Other Side of the Mirror: Bob Dylan Live at the Newport Folk Festival, 1963-65

The Other Side of the Mirror: Bob Dylan Live at the Newport Folk Festival, 1963-65
Directed by: Murray Lerner
Us hipsters living in such edgy NYC neighborhoods as the Lower East Side or Prospect Heights have sunk a lot of dough into our music collections over the years and while we periodically weed through our CDs and LPs, tossing out the odd Terence Trent D’Arby or Linda Rondstat album, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who has loosened their grips on their copy of Sgt. Pepper’s or Back in Black. And then there’s the ubiquitous Dylan collection which necessarily includes Bringing it All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde on Blonde. [My personal favorite is Nashville Skyline but that’s getting off topic.] It’s no coincidence that any serious Dylan collection includes those particular three works for it was during that seminal period when Bob Dylan folkie, became DYLAN, Spokesman of a Generation. Nowhere is that transformation more vivid than in the new documentary, Murray Lerner’s The Other Side of the Mirror: Bob Dylan Live at The Newport Folk Festival, 1963-1965. All the footage –70% of which has never been seen before– is lovingly pieced together from those three summers and Lerner, wisely, allows the footage to speak for itself. There are no talking heads, no aging rockers’ waxing philosophical, mostly just Bob Dylan playing Bob Dylan songs. Oh, there are some terrific moments with Joan Baez, Johnny Cash, Pete Seeger and Peter, Paul & Mary, but mostly it’s just Bobby Dylan, singing into the microphone while strumming away on his guitar.
Dylan had emerged from the NYC folk scene in the early 60’s and had already caused quite a stir but not many of us aforementioned hipsters were around back in those days, or at least not old enough to remember just what a sensation this punk folk singer caused back in the day. Folk music was such a huge phenomenon at the time, its fans such die hard purists, that any modifications to their songs were often met with outrage and while Dylan was initially met with a certain amount of skepticism and even derision, it was impossible for anyone with a mind of their own to ignore the obvious: this skinny Jewish kid was the shit. As portrayed in the new Todd Haynes “biopic,” I’m Not There, Dylan was all about persona and his particular brand of shape shifting left everyone enthralled. Over the course of The Other Side of The Mirror, we get to witness one of these morphings right before our eyes; that of a shy self-conscious folkie into a cocky rock star. It’s worth the price of admission, I can assure you.

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NYFF 07 Review: The Axe In The Attic

The Axe in the Attic
Directed by Ed Pincus & Lucia Small
After the New Orleans flood of 1965, many of those who survived would keep an axe in their attic so that, in the event the water should ever again rise to the top of their homes, they would have a way out. Interestingly, some of the survivors of Hurricane Katrina, forever immortalized in TV and still images, standing on their roofs hoping for rescue owe their lives to this practice. Now documentary makers Lucia Small and Ed Pincus bring us The Axe in the Attic, a fine contribution to the 45th New York Film Festival and one that pulls no punches. Where’s the outrage you may ask; this remarkable documentary gives its subjects – both victims as well as its creators – a platform for expressing it. The results are moving.
Don’t allow the blip of controversy about this movie get in the way of checking it out. While Spike Lee’s When The Levees Broke, a powerful and necessary work of documentary film making itself, is planted firmly in New Orleans interviewing survivors and celebrities alike, Pincus and Small hit the road for a 60-day tour of America’s back roads to find their subjects. It’s no exaggeration to suggest that those displaced residents of New Orleans belong to the single largest American diaspora. They can be found in FEMA trailer parks and crashing with family, but their collective feelings of depression and hope are truly profound. The controversy – or criticism – that the film is generating has to do with the two filmmakers inserting themselves so centrally into the story. Many of said critics believe that the focus ought to be solely on the victims and that showing the film maker’s own problems just intrudes on the victims’ dignity and to be honest, at times their presence does have a taint of narcissism, but ultimately I found the decision to be a successful device.

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NYFF 07: A Clip From The Q&A For “Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project”

In the Q&A for his hysterically funny new doc, Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project, director John Landis gave the best Q&A I’ve seen in ages. Here he riffs on Debbie Reynolds and Robert De Niro and makes us all very impatient for the DVD release of this film. Unfortunately, this is the only clip I have that really illustrates what a great storyteller and genuinely funny man Landis is (Not the best in-camera editor am I). I am willing to bet he could do a week of 90-minute one man shows and not repeat one story. There’s definitely a book in there, somewhere.
Mr. Warmth screens on Saturday, Oct 13 at 9:30pm and on Saturday, Oct 13 at midnight