Friday, November 27, 2015

Rainbow Bridge (1970)

Perhaps the most political statement Jimi Hendrix made during his career. According to author Harry Shapiro, "the idea was to shoot an antidote to Easy Rider showing the positive side of the youth movement" In this sense the film begins with a shooting, as Easy Rider ended with one. The loosely documentary-style film is centered on the experiences of a New York model, who travels from San Diego, California, to an occult center on the island of Maui, Hawaii. While there, "she encounters various devotees of surfing, clairvoyance, zen, yoga, meditation, Tai-Chi and the odd ufoloist". As it unfolds, a free concert by Jimi Hendrix is staged in a former pasture in the upcountry region (2,000 feet above sea level) near Olinda, southeast of the center of the town of Makawao, on the northwest, upcountry slope of Haleakalā. A few hundred island hippies, surfers, and local residents show up to witness the event. Hendrix performed with the post-Jimi Hendrix Experience "Cry of Love" tour group, drummer Mitch Mitchell and bassist Billy Cox. A group of Hare Krishnas chanted "Om" for a few minutes and Wein introduced the group. Although Hendrix played two full sets (approximately 50 minutes each), due to technical problems, only about 17 minutes of film footage was deemed usable.

A soundtrack album, also titled Rainbow Bridge, was released in October 1971. Although it contains some incidental studio recordings by Hendrix used in the film, the album does not include any of the recorded performances from the Maui concert. Hendrix's performances are edited for the film. Complete recordings of both sets (about 20 songs) have been released on several bootleg albums, sometimes being mistaken for official releases. 

Song performances included in the film (all from the first set, except where indicated): 

"Hey Baby"/"In from the Storm" (the complete recording appears on The Jimi Hendrix Experience box set) 
"Foxy Lady" (included on Voodoo Child: The Jimi Hendrix Collection) 
"Hear My Train A Comin'" – first part 
"Voodoo Child (Slight Return)" 
"Purple Haze" 
"Star Spangled Banner" 
"Hear My Train A Comin'" – second part 
"Hey Baby" (second set) – intro only 
"Ezy Ryder" (second set) – audio only 
Studio recordings by Hendrix used as incidental music for the film include (all on the 1971 Rainbow Bridge album, except where indicated): 

"Earth Blues" 
"Dolly Dagger" 
"Bleeding Heart" (1972 War Heroes and 1997 South Saturn Delta) 
"Pali Gap" 
"Look Over Yonder" 
"Star Spangled Banner" 
"Room Full of Mirrors" 
"Hey Baby (New Rising Sun)" 

The version of "Hear My Train A Comin'" that appears on the album was taken from the first show on May 30, 1970, at the Berkeley Community Theatre in Berkeley, California. In 2014, the original Rainbow Bridge album was reissued in both CD and LP formats.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Tales Of The Grim Sleeper

This very disturbing documentary examines the so-called 'Grim Sleeper' murders where possibly hundreds of women were killed in south Los Angeles between 1985 and 2010. The prime suspect, the misogynist Lonnie David Franklin Jr was arrested in 2010 and is expected to face trial in December 2015, although the case has been postponed multiple times.

The disappearances of hundreds of African American women in south LA and the inability of the police to catch the killer is the starting point for this film, with the bizarre, sadistic, horrid and sinister life of Franklin examined in detail. However what really shocked me about this film is the conditions people are subjected to in these communities, particularly the women. Poverty, lack of access to education, intimidation and violence from the police and in the home, punitive measures for relatively small infringements of the law and a grinding cycle of exploitation and struggle characterizes the communities from where the Grim Sleeper took his victims. Drugs and crime are the only respite from a hopeless set of circumstances for many people.

One of the few high points in the film is the documentation of the work of the Black Coalition Fighting Back Serial Murders, a group of activist women who have taken back the power and made a stand against a horrific set of conditions that are imposed upon them by a system that simply disregards the suffering of black women and basically does not care about them.

Update: Lonnie David Frank Jr was sentence to death after being convicted of 10 counts of homicide on 6th June 2016.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

The Saints - Stranded Documentary 2015

This film explores the unique set of circumstances in 1970's Brisbane that fostered The Saints; the sweaty rebellion of Brisbane's oppressed youth as punk counterculture challenged QLD's notorious police force. Featuring interviews with the members of the band, including its leaders Ed Kuepper and Chris Bailey, as well as the likes of Sir Bob Geldof, former Dead Kennedys frontman Jello Biafra and Buzzcocks guitarist Steve Diggle, the documentary is set to examine how the oppressive and conservative government of Joh Bjelke-Petersen in the 1970s helped act as a catalyst for the rise of punk rock in Australia, and how as a result The Saints went on to be one of the most influential bands this country has ever produced.