October 2017 has been an especially busy month for music docs. We take a look at several of these films that have limited theatrical runs, are screening in record stores, and then have later home video release dates.
Finding Joseph I is a documentary film chronicling the eccentric life of punk rock reggae singer, Paul "HR" Hudson from Bad Brains. The charismatic frontman's explosive live performances helped pioneer hardcore punk while delivering an enlightening message of positive mental attitude.
HR's heavy devotion to the Rastafarian faith guided him in a spiritual direction leaving the band several times to explore his love for reggae music. Over the years HR's increasingly unpredictable and abnormal behavior has many convinced that he his suffering from mental illness.
Finding Joseph I illustrates the true story behind the legendary lead singers life, career and struggles with never before seen archival footage, photography and exclusive interviews.
Screening in select theaters and record stores now and on DVD / digital formats on November 3rd.
L7: Pretend We're Dead takes us on an all-access journey into the 1990's grunge movement that took the world by storm, and the band that helped define it as the genre of a generation. Culled from over 100 hours of vintage home movies taken by the band, never-before-seen performance footage, and candid interviews, L7: Pretend We're Dead is an engrossing time capsule told from the perspective of L7, these true insiders who brought their signature blend of grunge punk to the masses.
Chronicling the early days of the band's formation in 1985 to their height as the 'queens of grunge,' the film takes a roller coaster ride through L7's triumphs and failures, providing never-before-discussed insight into the band's eventual dissolution in 2001. Formed by Donita Sparks and Suzi Gardner-guitars/vocals, the band completed their lineup with the addition of Jennifer Finch on bass/vocals and Dee Plakas on drums. To highlight the fact that L7 was an all-female group, however, was to miss the point. "Our fans couldn't give a shit if we're women," Sparks says. "We did not set out to be an all-girl band. It just happened that way." Yet the "gender issue" would return time and again for the band; from shock jocks refusing to play "chick rock" to academics accusing the band of "incorrectly" embracing their feminism to hard rock press implying the band was merely riding a wave of "grrl power" trendiness.
Despite these obstacles, L7: Pretend We're Dead shows the thread of influence the band had not only on rock and roll but on future generations of women everywhere and is, at the end, a testament to the pioneering spirit of a band that refuses to take anything lying down.
Screening in select theaters and record stores now. Available on Blu-ray + DVD now. Package also includes the infamous 1997 documentary "L7 The Beauty Process" that was directed by Krist Novoselic.
Director Gorman Bechard believes in rock and roll; he's been proving it on screen since his fan-centric Replacements documentary Color Me Obsessed. Follow-ups on the Archers of Loaf and Husker Du's Grant Hart (Every Everything) respectively captured the power of live performance and the intricacies of a creative mind. Bechard's latest does both, while tackling a complicated question: "Who is Lydia Loveless?"
Rather than taking a reverent look back at an established artist, Bechard's new film serves as an introduction of sorts to a musical life in progress, diving deep into the evolving career of the gloriously talented Loveless and the band mates alongside her. Lydia and company may be on a familiar and oft-repeated journey--from tour van to rock club to recording studio and repeat--but theirs is a singular vision thanks to the genuine, honest, and charismatic woman at the wheel.
Though the movie spends some time on Loveless's past, from her musical upbringing to her younger days in family-filled bands, its focus is on the now: recent footage from a fierce, frenetic live show mixes with a revealing peek inside the studio as the quintet works on their next record. Interspersed are candid interviews touching on issues that many bands face, including the tricky economics of being a working musician, dealing with piracy and bad YouTube videos, and sexism in modern-day music media. Lydia's blunt, incisive responses and her band's special take on what she calls "indie-alt-country" may help answer the question posed by the title, but you'll leave wanting to hear more songs and find out for sure.
Screening in select theaters and record stores now. Available on DVD November 24th.