It takes the right music accompanying a scene to transform a movie from stirring to absolutely riveting, or to deepen the sentimentality or humor or serenity. Imagine the difference between Iron Man swooping into the scene with a full-stringed orchestra or a thumping heavy metal anthem. Different, right?
Here are three examples from this year's BendFilm lineup.
Police trooper boots press into the pavement of a grade school parking lot as D.A.R.E. Officer O'Donnell exits his cruiser in groovy slo-mo. The Temptations' funky song "Shakey Ground" announces his arrival as he struts up the walk toward the front door, cigarette and coffee in hand; aviator sunglasses on as if he owned the place.
This P.T. Anderson-like scene is just one of the many smart utilizations of music in director Cody Blue Snider's demented short film about an April Fool's Day gone horribly wrong.
Seventies band Funkadelic articulates the swinging of a lunch pail with the song "Can You Get to That" and Major Lance's "Um, Um, Um, Um, Um, Um" frames a blood-soaked classroom freak out. To be sure, comedy is the main focus of the movie, but the music makes it a real film. In getting the rights to all of this great music, it probably didn't hurt that the director's dad is Dee Snider of Twisted Sister fame.
Octo. 11 3 pm, Tin Pan, Oct. 12 3 pm, Tin Pan
Before the Spring, After the Fall
In this gripping documentary from director Jed Rothstein, the musicians tell the story. It's 2008 and a gathering of Egyptian metal bands in Cairo threatens to either ignite the already simmering notions of discontent among the younger generation or cause a police crackdown on their event and their movement. Why? Their kind of concerts have been banned for 10 years.
Whether scream metal performances from the bands the filmmakers follow—youngsters Your Prince Harming and all-female group Massive Scar Era—or acoustic writing sessions, the music in Before the Spring, After the Fall is the perfect backdrop for the buildup to and resulting chaotic Arab Spring in late 2010. It's a momentous movie where the focus on thundering music gives way to historical political changes. Oct. 11 3 pm, Cascades Theatrical Company
With more acoustic guitar music than you can shake a spruce tree at, Musicwood is a heart-wrenching look at the business of sourcing dwindling materials for top-of-the-line guitar construction.
Inspirational musical interludes are provided by the likes of Kaki King, Yo La Tengo, and Sergius Gregory. In fact, Gregory's sublimely intimate performance of "No One Gets Hurt" during the closing credits is the perfect summation for a film wrought with tension. Musicwood depicts the struggle between representatives of Greenpeace, the Native American corporation Seaalaska—which is logging spruce trees used for guitar soundboards at an incredible rate—as well as representatives from Taylor, Gibson and Martin guitar companies. Oct. 11, 3 pm, The Oxford Hotel, Oct. 12, 8:30 pm, Tower