Monthly Archives: December 2009

loudQUIETloud: On Tour With the Pixies

I’m not a fan of the talking-heads music documentary. I find it a waste of time to listen to lesser musicians gush about their idols. But I do appreciate a well-crafted or intimate tour doc, and the 2007 film “loudQUIETloud” is nothing if not intimate – which is the brilliance of it because The Pixies are notoriously shy.

Kurt Cobain once remarked in a Rolling Stones interview that he was basically ripping off the Pixies and that his band Nirvana used their sensibilites by playing softly and quietly and then following up with hard and loud sounds. In this sense, Nirvana didn’t change the course of music in the ’90s, it had already been set by the Pixies.

But despite their incredible music “presence” the band members themselves remained mysterious and elusive. Most of all, the reason behind their 1993 break-up remained unexplained as did the reasoning behind their decision to re-group in 2004. But even after seeing the film, there are no clear reasons other than the band members’ very apparent difficulty communicating – not only with each other, but with their families and their fans.

The conversations that we are privy to are so penetrating that we begin to feel that as an audience we have a closer relationship with the band members than they do with each other. The directors truly achieve here.

This is not a retrospective documentary. Don’t expect to see lots of old highlights of the band’s early years. This is strictly a tour film, and it’s a special gift to be able to travel with a rock band as it shuffles back to stardom. loudQUIETloud is an intimate look at four very different personalities, none of whom appear particularly attention-hungry, but all of whom embody some deep musical and emotional spark. When the sparks meet at the same time, you see fireworks. And when they don’t, you sense the kind of moist discordance that extinguishes any relationship – no matter how brilliant the fireworks.

loudQUIETloud is available for free online viewing through SnagFilms.

Inside Hana’s Suitcase, A Delicate Look at the Holocaust

To add to the long list of Holocaust documentaries is one that is not dreary but delicate, “Inside Hana’s Suitcase” from Rhrombus Media. It is approachable for children because it is told by children – from Canada, the Czech Republic and Japan. They recount the story of Hana Brady, a Czech girl who perished at Auschwitz. Yet instead of her memory perishing, it is revived thanks to the inquisitive nature of the director of the Tokyo Holocaust Centre. Fumiko Ishioka requests artifacts from the Auschwitz museum and is sent a number of items, including a suitcase bearing the name of Hana Brady.

Determined, Fumiko searches for the suitcase’s owner and discovers that Hana Brady’s brother lived in Toronto. In this moment, three sets of people become connected to the life and memory of little Hana Brady.

The film is a hybrid documentary/drama that contains both archival and re-created elements. The re-creations are deft and appropriate for the story which becomes fully rounded out in the recountings of Hana’s brother George and most of all, the children.

This poignant journey is complemented by a clever interactive website designed with children’s inquisitiveness in mind.

I highly recommend both the film and the complementary website to introduce children between the years of around 7-12 to the sensitive story of the Holocaust.

For more, read Larry Weinstein’s article on the making of the film on the HistoryWire website here.

This film is currently screening in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. Check your local listings.

Addendum: The TV program that I work for, CBC’s Doc Zone, aired a TV version of this film on June 23rd, 2011. For more, click here.