Music On The Big Screen Series, February And March 2006 At The Guild Cinema

Cowboys, Indians And Dolls With Soul

Captain America
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Carrying the ethics of punk rock to the movies, Guild Cinema owners Keif Henley and Peter Conheim screen films they believe must be seen, knowing an audience will find them.

The latest in the Guild's ongoing Music on the Big Screen series kicks off Feb. 17-23, with a long-anticipated look at astoundingly unknown musician and widely influential Texas songwriter Townes van Zandt. Be Here To Love Me (2005) displays a disordered life and strangled career through close friends and family, but the naked truth comes from van Zandt's own stories. As raw as a stale tin of roll-your-own tobacco but never as bitter, Townes keeps a unique but bent perspective.

A host of respected country musicians have covered his exquisite songs–Steve Earle, Emmylou Harris, Gillian Welch, Lucinda Williams, Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard among them–but his own records sold few. Rare stage footage shows him musically baring a delicate soul to his audience while keeping them emotionally at bay with self-deprecating dark humor.

If you haven't heard the hard-traveling van Zandt, you'll be let in on one of's tragic patron saints. If you already know Townes, you'll be moved by the depth, beauty and hardship of his short life.

New York Doll (2005) features the overlooked member of the raucous band that spawned classic trashy glam rock. There are already endless accounts of the junkie deaths of Johnny Thunders and Billy Murcia, or the post-Dolls success of David Johansen, but none of bassist Arthur “Killer” Kane, who faded into the life of a shell-shocked Mormon librarian. Weeks before succumbing to leukemia, the personal triumph of his 2004 concert reunion with surviving band members isn't quite what you'd think. Fans of both the New York Dolls and of studies in quiet human drama will want to check this one out, Feb. 27 and 28 and March 1 and 2.

While not formally a part of the Guild's music series, Wattstax (1973; reissued 2003) is too black and beautiful to ignore here. This legendary Stax Records free show commemorates the 1965 Watts riot–or Watts uprising, depending on what side of the ghetto you're on. The baddest concert film ever shot includes the granddaddy of them all, Rufus Thomas, setting 100,000 people to grooving, the funky, funky Bar-Kays getting way down, the underrated Johnnie Taylor sweating out body and soul, the Dramatics, Staple Singers, Isaac Hayes …

The list goes on but notably includes a young unknown Richard Pryor and unnamed residents commenting on life, deep in one of the toughest neighborhoods of Los Angeles. If you see some fool dancing in the aisle during Taylor's “Jody's Got Your Girl and Gone,” that will be me. March 10 through 16.

Finally, Trudell (2005) offers a distinguished portrait of eloquent and inspirational Santee Sioux activist, poet and musician John Trudell. From incidents at Alcatraz to Oglala, Trudell has been interpreting Native life, the American Indian Movement and the corporate erosion of this country in pungent word and song for nearly 40 years. Yet we endure and, despite deep personal loss and persistent federal harassment, so does he. Trudell runs March 17-23.

What these fine works have in common is not only breathtaking soundtracks but celebration of the durable human spirit. Eat your popcorn before the movie begins because you'll have lots more to chew on during each show.

Just added! Coachella will also run as a part of the Guild Cinema's Music on the Big Screen Series on Feb. 24 and 25. For times and more information, log onto

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