FilmJerk Favorites

A group of unique directors and the essential works that you've got to see.

||| Sergio Leone |||
Sergio Leone

Leone’s career is remarkable in its unrelenting attention to both American culture and the American genre film, exploring the mythic America he created with each successive film examining the established characters in greater depth.

Only his second feature (a remake of Kurosawa’s Yojimbo), Leone's landmark "spaghetti western" caused a revolution and features Clint Eastwood in his breakthrough role as "The Man With No Name". This classic brutal drama of feuding families wasn’t the first spaghetti Western, but it was far and away the most successful up to that time.

Plot is of minimal interest, but character is everything to Leone, who places immense meaning in the slightest flick of an eyelid, extensively using the extreme close-up on the eyes to reveal any feeling, as demonstrated by Clint, who squints his way through this slam-bang sequel to A Fistful of Dollars as a wandering gunslinger that must combine forces with his nemesis to track down a wanted killer.

The final chapter in the groundbreaking trilogy follows Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, and Eli Wallach as they form an uneasy alliance to find a stash of hidden gold. Leone focuses on his central theme as they find themselves facing greed, treachery, and murder, showing that the desire for wealth and power turns men into ruthless creatures who violate land and family and believe that a man’s death is less important than how he faces it.

Recommended by CarrieSpecht

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Hail, Hail, Rock ‘N Roll

By CarrieSpecht

June 21st, 2006

At the Egyptian Theatre Hollywood Saturday, June 24 at 7:30pm. Following the screening Director Taylor Hackford (and surprise guests) will appear in person for a discussion and to reveal some surprise extras, some of which appear on the upcoming new DVD release of the film.

Hail, Hail, Rock ‘N Roll

The tagline proclaims, “The whole world knows the music. Nobody knows the man”.

Director Taylor Hackford ("Ray") rectifies this situation in his wonderful expose of preeminent musician Chuck Berry who was a prominent pioneer of the idea of singer as songwriter, and a highly influential leader in the infancy of rock 'n' roll. Berry is explored and exposed as never before in this revealing, inspiring and energizing documentary.

Filmed on location at the Fox Theatre in St. Louis, Missouri, Hackford's earnest and attentive documentary is an all-star extravaganza revolving around a concert given in Berry’s hometown on the occasion of his 60th birthday.

This lovely and personal account of Chuck Berry is told in the usual documentary fashion, with Berry the man revealed through his own words and those of his friends and colleagues through an entertaining mix of interviews, some vintage behind-the-scenes clips, and live-concert archival footage.

The film abounds with a multitude of guest appearances by many legends and luminaries in concert as well as in interviews, including Etta James, Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, Robert Cray, Julian Lennon, Linda Ronstadt, legendary musicians Bo Diddley, Little Richard, the Everly Brothers, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, John Lennon and Bruce Springsteen who once opened for Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis early in his career.

Although standard in it’s presentation Hackford does an impressive job of capturing Berry's charismatic performances, his humor, and the uncompromising standards he has set for himself, often presenting Berry as a difficult character, avoiding the trap of idealizing or idolizing him. By showing the enigmatic showmen in all his humanity makes this one of the best and most honest rock films of all time.

With its charm and exuberance it’s no wonder that this film has long been a fan favorite and it’s DVD release has been so greatly anticipated.

My rating: A-