Movie Review: loudQUIETloud: a film about the Pixies

loudQUIETloud: a film about the Pixies (2006) is not your usual concert film. Following the Pixies successful reunion tour in 2004 from Western Canada to Europe and finally to the United States, the concert footage is interspersed with scenes of the band rehearsing, traveling, and otherwise killing time on the road. The title loudQUIETloud is a good description of a typical rave-up Pixies tune, but the all-capital QUIET also describes the band off-stage. They are all nearly introverts, which is quite okay as I can totally relate to that, but on the bad side they are also unable to communicate with one another which is the root of all the turmoil in the band’s history. The long silences in the film are really telling on how this group of four individuals operates.

When not performing each band member has their own project to work on. Bassist Kim Deal is writing and recording songs for a new album for her other band The Breeders (and now the Breeders have a new album). Lead vocalist Charles Thompson is also working on songs for his solo work under the name Frank Blank. Guitarist Joey Santiago is scoring a film on his laptop. And drummer David Lovering enjoys performing as a magician. Kim Deal’s twin sister (and fellow Breeder) Kelly is along for the ride as well to help keep Kim sober and injects some outgoingness into the film as she attempts to mediate disputes among the band and interviews devoted fans.

The most striking thing about loudQUIETloud is just how normal the Pixies seem to be for a band that rocks loud with eccentric lyrics. You would never expect to see Black Francis looking like an ordinary dad going to a corn maze and an aquarium with his stepson. Deal drinks non-alcoholic beer throughout. The biggest scandal on the tour is when Lovering uses too much Valium and can keep time on the drums.

This is a very personal film, but the best parts are still the Pixies on stage doing what they do best.  I am a bit bummed that there’s no footage of the band during their Lowell, MA performance in Dec. 2004, because I was at that show.  They do however drive around Boston visiting old haunts from when they started gigging back in the 80’s.

Movie Review: The Brothers Grimm

The Brothers Grimm (2005) is pretty dumb.  It does have a good concept: Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm (Jake and Will in the movie played by Heath Ledger and Matt Damon respectively) are charlatans who stage hauntings in various German towns and then collect money for their exorcisms who meet their match when they come upon a forest where fairy tales have come to life.  With director Terry Gilliam at the helm I expected it to be fun, fantastical, and thoughtful at the very least.  Instead it was more like a bad Tim Burton film: dull, fantastical, and way-over-the-top.  In fact, in many ways it seems to rip off Burton’s Sleepy Hollow.  It has the same creepy village, the same spooky forest with moving trees, and is overwhelmed in the same way by CGI special effects that get in the way of a good story.  Damon and Ledger are good actors but aren’t really given a chance to perform amid he FX and are saddled with a hackneyed “I must learn to believe in my brother” message.  I didn’t really have high expectations for this movie but I was disappointed all the same.