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I went to the Norwood, which is so bourgie it’s ridiculous, to see “Searching for Elliott Smith,” the Elliott Smith “documentary” on Friday night. It was raining, appropriately. I have to say- though anything Elliott Smith should make me happy- this documentary did not.

It was very odd and low budget and utilized mediocre graphics, sound and editing. But all of that I could dismiss if the story held together. But it didn’t, sadly.

Gil Reyes directed “Searching for Elliott Smith” and though he clearly tried very hard to make a great documentary, the picture ended up being a vehicle for Smith’s fiance, Jennifer Chiba, to try and vindicate herself.

Smith’s death is still an open case because the police can’t prove that Smith killed himself or that Chiba killed him. In the police report and/or coroner’s report it is mentioned that Chiba “refused to speak with detectives.” On camera Chiba denied this and even took Reyes and the camera to the LA Police Department. It was a strange turn of events in the documentary and it almost seemed like a set up. Why didn’t Chiba attempt to speak to detectives 6 years ago, when Smith died?

It’s really too bad that the doc. couldn’t hold itself together because Reyes interviewed several people for it who gave illuminating interviews about Smith. Mary Lou Lord spoke of his beauty and his fear of record companies and becoming “corrupted.” Smith’s longtime Portland friend, roommate and tour mate Sean Croghan spoke about their early days together, Smith’s “dry wit” and even about Smith’s personal background (though when asked about physical abuse he said he didn’t feel comfortable.) Gus Van Sant was interviewed and so were the owners of Cavity Search Records who put out Heatmiser and “Roman Candle.” But Chiba took the show.

It was painfully said to hear her recount what happened the day Smith died. She cried through the interview and it was very real.

Reyes answered some questions after the screening and I asked him how he got the characters to be in the film and if he would have made it without their participation. He said he originally made it without the participation of Jennifer Chiba and when he showed her a rough cut she said she wanted in, which in and of itself, is odd.

He also said that the LAPD still have Smith’s journal. WHAT?!

Everyone who loves Elliott Smith should see “Searching for Elliott Smith.” But just don’t expect too much.


Jeff Buckley’s “Amazing” Life Is Subject of Film Documentary
By David Chiu

The overall response to watching Amazing Grace: Jeff Buckley, a posthumously released 2004 film documentary about the life of musician Jeff Buckley, is two-fold. One response is sadness because the film reminds us of what might have been if Buckley hadn’t died in 1997 at age 30 from an accidental drowning. And yet the film is also uplifting because of the timeless quality of Buckley’s music and mesmerizing performances.

The film chronicles Buckley’s early days performing at the Lower East Side café Sin-e, his signing with Columbia and garnering acclaim for the album Grace and culminates with his final stop in Memphis where he was recording Grace‘s follow-up. As the film points out, at a time when alternative rock, with its detachment and self-loathing, was all the rage—Buckley brought back the importance of the personal singer/songwriter. And while dealing with the pressures of fame and a music industry that was usually unkind to serious musicians driven by art, Buckley was never compromising. What comes across very clearly in this poignant documentary is Buckley’s drive and passion, qualities he possessed from the very beginning of his career that never diminished.

Amazing Grace: Jeff Buckley has made the film festival rounds and will be released on DVD on June 2 as part of the special deluxe version of Grace Around The World, a DVD/CD collection of Buckley’s live performances recorded around the time of Grace. The documentary was directed and produced by Nyla Bialek Adams and Laurie Trombley. Microphone Memory Emotion caught up with the filmmakers who spoke about what drew them to producing a documentary about Buckley, the filming and research process and the impact of Buckley’s music.

Click for Q & A


Dave Markey is a southern California filmmaker, primarily. He’s been involved in the L.A. punk scene in many ways since the early 80s. He directed the phenomenal documentary, 1991: The Year Punk Broke, in which Markey followed Sonic Youth and their opening band, Nirvana, on a European tour. This was pre-Nevermind. The film features performances and candid moments with the likes of Dinosaur Jr., Babes in Toyland, Gumball, The Ramones and Courtney Love.

The film is being screened tonight at the Walter Reade Theater at 8:15. For info, click here.

For the last year Markey has been working on another documentary, The Reinactors, which chronicles Hollywood icon impersonators. It was screened at the 37th Annual International Film Festival of Rotterdam, the New York United Film Festival and the Buenos Aires Festival International Cine Independent, among others. The film is being released on DVD in June.

Keep reading for details and insights into The Year Punk Broke, comments on Lee Renaldo’s hair and stories of violent Marilyn Monroe and Freddy Kruger impersonators.

Dave Markey, Kurt Cobain, Kim Gordon Foto by Thurston Moore

Dave Markey, Kurt Cobain, Kim Gordon Foto by Thurston Moore

Q. 1991: The Year Punk Broke is being screened at the Walter Reade Theater in NYC on Monday, did you have anything to do with that? Will you be there?

I made the film available to them. I understand it’s a nice joint. Unfortunately I wont be there, I can’t make it to every screening. I was at the ATP NY last year, that was a blast. I also got to show the sister sequel made from unused footage from the film called (This Is Known As) The Blues Scale.
Click here for more


For free. Here.

UPDATE: Another link.

I still haven’t watched it. Blast!

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