Music Documentary

Film Review: Zappa is a frank & creative look at Frank Zappa’s weirdly provocative genius

February 16, 2021

Zappa is a documentary that feels like one giant motherfucker of a film. At 129 minutes, director Alex Winter (the former lead actor of Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure) covers lots of ground about this enigmatic genius. They broke the mould when they made Frank Zappa. So, while the proceedings are detailed and capture his […]

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Film Review: Whitney (UK/USA, 2018) is a bittersweet love letter celebrating the enigmatic star’s rise & tragic downfall

July 24, 2018

Whitney may not be the most necessary film but it’s certainly an entertaining one. This documentary comes hot on the heels of Whitney: Can I Be Me, but where this latest offering differs is in its unprecedented access to Whitney Houston’s family and friends. The result is an intimate and bittersweet portrait of her meteoric […]

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Film Review: Her Sound, Her Story (Australia, 2018) is an eye-opening look at women in Australian music

July 16, 2018

In the nineties, The Go-Betweens’ Lindy Morrison made the documentary, Australian Women In Rock & Pop Music- Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves. Fast forward to 2018 and the film Her Sound, Her Story documents many of the same issues that are still relevant. Gender disparity in the music industry is a pervasive issue with […]

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AMW Film Fest Review: Take Me To The River (USA, 2015) is a soaring celebration of blues, rap and soul music

November 1, 2017

If American music has a heart and soul then you would find it nestled between Memphis and the Mississippi Delta. The documentary film, Take Me To The River realises this and pays homage to the soul men and women that created those passionate and influential hits for the likes of Stax Records and their ilk. […]

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Sydney Film Festival Review: Rumble (Canada, 2017) gives long-overdue credit to American Indians & their contributions to popular music

June 13, 2017

It seems that American Indians have been erased from the history books, including the chapters relating to contemporary music. Until now. The documentary, Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked The World looks set to change all of that by celebrating the contributions of these individuals and finally giving credit where it’s due. The film is directed […]

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Sydney Film Festival Review: Gimme Danger (USA, 2016)

June 20, 2016

Gimme Danger turns the amp up to 11 and never turns down for a second in its nearly two hour running time. Super loud, super charged, and super excellent, this documentary charting the rise, quick demise, and subsequent reunion of The Stooges is one hell of a good time. Written and directed by super fan […]

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SXSW Music Documentary Reflections: The Smart Studios Story, I Am The Blues and Sidemen: A Long Road to Glory

April 4, 2016

Today we look at three brilliant music documentaries that screened at SXSW last month as part of their phenomenal 24 Beats Per Second music focused program: The Smart Studios Story With an 4:3 aesthetic that takes it right out of a 1990s MTV world – all its missing is Kurt Loder’s narration – The Smart Studios […]

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SXSW Interview: Director Scott Rosenbaum and Producer Jasin Cadic talk about Blues documentary Sidemen: A Long Road to Glory

March 14, 2016

Many independent music documentaries seek to uncover some of the most important moments or threads in music history, making them essential for just about anyone interested in gaining a deeper understanding of the legacy, the complexities, the behind-the-scenes struggles, and the beauty of music, both as a vessel of expression and as a lifelong passion […]

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Melbourne International Film Festival Review: 808 (UK, 2015)

August 14, 2015

Alexander Dunn’s expositional documentary 808 takes its name from the Roland TR-808, one of the first programmable drum machines. Originally manufactured in early 1980 for studio musicians to record demos, the 808 was criticized for its unrealistic drum sound and was likened to the sound of marching ants. However, the snappy, tinny sound of the […]

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Melbourne International Film Festival Review: B-Movie: Lust & Sound in West-Berlin 1979-1989 (Germany, 2015)

August 7, 2015

B-Movie: Lust & Sound in West-Berlin 1979-1989 is a historically-oriented documentary that takes you through the unique underground music scene of the titular city that emerged during the 80s. Though clumsily-titled, it’s a fascinating portrait of a lost world of almost-surreal parties, rampant counter-culture and uninhibited artistic potential. Structurally, B-Movie follows the gradual immersion of […]

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Australian Rock and Roll explored in new ABC documentary Blood and Thunder: The Sound of Alberts.

June 22, 2015

Australia’s rock and roll history will be explored in the upcoming two part documentary, Blood and Thunder: The Sound of Alberts. The documentary surrounds the Australian rock and roll industry in the 1960s and 70s, and the two families that dominated the rock scene: the Alberts and the Youngs. Part one, Blood, explores music producer […]

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Sydney Film Festival Review: Lambert & Stamp (USA, 2014)

June 8, 2015

The names Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp may not mean much to you unless you know that they were the unlikely managers of The Who during the sixties and early seventies. The pair are a rather odd couple and they’re also the subject of a documentary by James D. Cooper. The result is a vibrant […]

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HBO acquires rights to Mavis Staples documentary

April 14, 2015

US documentary MAVIS!, about the life of gospel singer and civil rights activist Mavis Staples, now has a home, with subscription channel HBO acquiring the rights to the documentary. Directed by Jessica Edwards and produced by New York-based company Films First, MAVIS! explores Staples’ illustrious career, which began with singing in a church gospel choir […]

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SXSW Film Review: Mavis! (USA, 2015)

April 1, 2015

When it comes to true music icons, it’s fair to say they’re a rare breed – but anyone who knows Mavis Staples will tell you: she’s in a league of her own. With some sixty five years of performances behind her – and more still to come (she’s touring Australia as we publish this piece) – […]

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Exclusive SXSW Interview: Brendan Toller talks about directing his second music documentary Danny Says

April 1, 2015

Brendan Toller is a rock and roll maniac. Having directed his first film, I Need that Record: The Death (or Possible Survival) of the Independent Record Store, he came into contact with many of rock and roll’s greatest figures, including the lesser known Danny Fields, who was responsible for the success of many iconic bands […]

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Exclusive SXSW Interview: Director Jessica Edwards talks about her Feature Documentary Debut Mavis!

March 31, 2015

While at SXSW earlier this month, Larry Heath sat down with Jessica Edwards, the director and producer of Mavis! – a new documentary about the legendary Mavis Staples, who just so happens to be touring Australia as we publish this piece. The pair talk about the experiences of making this film, the icon herself and much […]

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SXSW Film Review: Danny Says (USA, 2015)

March 22, 2015

The name Danny Fields may not mean much to some people but to those in the know he is “The coolest man in the room”, a number one fan and groupie and even the “Mayor of New York City”. The man seems to have seen and done it all in music, having fully immersed himself […]

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Sydney Film Festival Review: Pulp: A Film About Life, Death & Supermarkets (UK, 2014)

June 10, 2014

Pulp are a band of the people. So it should come as no surprise that the film about their last concert performance in their Sheffield hometown is at times more about their fans and the locals then the self-deprecating group itself. Florian Habicht’s (Love Story) documentary, Pulp: A Film About Life, Death & Supermarkets plays […]

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Film Review and Stream: John Mayer “Someday I’ll Fly” (USA, 2014)

May 29, 2014

There is something about singer and guitarist John Mayer. Clearly, he is talented. He is a 19-time Grammy award nominated recording artist, and of those nominations, he has won 7, the last win in 2009 for his song “Gravity”,, for which he won the Best Male Rock Vocal Performance. But for some, his tabloid fodder […]

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Film Reviews: Paul McCartney: Live Kisses (US, 2012) & BBC Electric Proms: Paul McCartney (UK, 2007)

April 27, 2014

Paul McCartney: Lives Kisses and BBC Electric Proms: Paul McCartney see the former Beatle performing songs, having fun and getting nostalgic. They also show two very different sides of Macca. The former sees him taking a leaf out of his parents’ songbook and doing covers of the easy-listening tunes that featured on his Kisses On […]

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Film Review: My Father and The Man In Black (Canada, 2012)

April 21, 2014

When audiences flocked to watch the Johnny Cash biopic, Walk The Line, they did not learn much about his one-time manager, Saul Holiff and they probably didn’t mind. But the pair had a troublesome relationship which started off with the two arguing and becoming enemies (and their association ended in a similar fashion) plus they […]

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