AMC rocks with movie festival


August 30, 2002|By Chris Kaltenbach | Chris Kaltenbach,SUN MOVIE CRITIC

Rock music and the movies haven't always worked together well - some early efforts to showcase them together proved embarrassing to both - but when the connection has clicked, the results have been some of the most entertaining movies of the past 40 years.

They've also proven some of the most culturally significant, signposts forever capturing not only a time and place, but an attitude.

This weekend, AMC's annual Film Preservation Festival showcases some of the best films to come out of that mix of genres.

Among the great films are Martin Scorsese's The Last Waltz, a loving, reverential (not to mention rollicking) chronicle of The Band's final tour; the Maysle Brothers' Gimme Shelter, one of the most harrowing documentaries ever made, as the Rolling Stones' 1969 American tour heads toward its grisly conclusion at San Francisco's Altamont Speedway; and Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll, a concert documentary in which the great Chuck Berry finally gets to play with the backing band he deserves, including Keith Richards and Eric Clapton.

There's hardly a seminal rock figure who doesn't show up somewhere over the weekend. Bill Haley & The Comets and The Platters are among the stars of the nostalgia-tinged Rock Around the Clock; Jimi Hendrix, David Bowie, Led Zeppelin and U2 all show up in concert films; even Elvis makes an appearance, in his first film, 1956's Love Me Tender.

And then there are the movies that aren't so much about rock 'n' roll as immersed in rock 'n' roll, films that celebrate rock as a dominant culture. They include Saturday Night Fever, Thank God It's Friday, The Girl Can't Help It (with Little Richard and others on the soundtrack), Jesus Christ Superstar and The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

The festival kicks off at 8 tonight with the AMC documentary, Hollywood Rocks the Movies: The '70s, followed at 10 p.m. by The Last Waltz. The offerings continue through the evening (get those VCRs primed) with Gimme Shelter (1:50 a.m.), The Girl Can't Help It (3:35 a.m.), the documentary Elvis In Hollywood (5:25 a.m.) and Love Me Tender (6:25 a.m.).

Tomorrow's offerings include Hollywood Rocks the Movies: The Early Years (8:10 a.m.), Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll (10:40 a.m.), Bowie in Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders From Mars (12:50 p.m.), U2: Rattle and Hum (6:15 p.m.), This Is Spinal Tap (8 p.m.), The Rocky Horror Picture Show (9:30 p.m.), Phantom of the Paradise (1:45 a.m.), Thank God It's Friday (3:30 a.m.), Rock Around the Clock (5:05 a.m.), The Jimi Hendrix Experience (6:40 a.m.) and Led Zeppelin's The Song Remains the Same (7:20 a.m.).

The festival continues through Sunday night. For a complete schedule, check out the AMC Web site at

More music and rhyme

Freestyle: The Art of Rhyme, one of the big hits of May's Maryland Film Festival, will be screened Thursday at Creative Alliance headquarters, 413 S. Conkling St.

The documentary, tracing the evolution of improvisational rap and hip-hop, was shot over a seven-year period.

Director Kevin Macdonald will serve as host of the 8 p.m. screening, along with artist Shinique Smith, whose work will be on exhibit. Admission is $6, $4 for Creative Alliance members.

An Ethiopian dinner from Ghion restaurant will be available for $8, beginning at 6 p.m.

Information: 410-276-1651.

Bergman comedy

Ingmar Bergman's 1955 film, Smiles of a Summer Night, a rare comedy from the famed Swedish director (and the inspiration for Stephen Sondheim's A Little Night Music), will be screened at noon tomorrow as part of the Charles Theatre's Saturday revival series.

Admission is $5. Information: 410-727-FILM.

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