Several stories from the Tribeca Film Festival by guest blogger Sharon Abella

Super Duper Alice Cooper: Spotlight at Tribeca Film Festival 2014

Alice Cooper
Alice Cooper

In the 80′s, if you wanted to attend a concert, you would either have to dial up on rotary phones to countless busy signals, OR else wait in line OVERNIGHT at the ticket outlet for a chance to see U2, Rush, Bruce Springsteen, Van Halen, or Bon Jovi. There was no point and click on ticketmaster or, and show up with a print out from your home computer option.

The “Godfather of Shock Rock,” ALICE COOPER, who rumor had it, “bit the heads off of live chickens, cut up plastic baby dolls, and wore boa constrictors around his neck, was a parents worst nightmare.

This documentary breaks down just what was so bad or so good about Alice Cooper. Under all that make up, is a pussy cat. Born in Detroit, MI, Vincent Damon Furnier (Alice Cooper), nearly died when his appendix burst at age 11. Thankfully, he lived, and he learned that life is a miracle. His family moved to Phoenix, Arizona, as they wanted their children to grow up in a healthier environment.

Super Duper Alice Cooper

Later, Alice formed a band called “The Spiders,” and they gave L.A. a try. With all of LA’s distractions like “Whiskey a Go-Go,” the bar where “The Doors” used to play, Alice knew the band had to be outrageous. Their music just wasn’t that good, and they needed a gimmick.

With new costumes, and Frank Zappa as a mentor, they kept at it, however, concert promoter, Bill Graham, said they “should either be actors or musicians, but they can’t do both at the same time on stage. This is not theater.”

Alice Cooper left LA with his tail between his legs, however, did not give up. He refused to go back to being Vince, so they tried even more wilder gimmicks until it worked. Fire, blood, vaudeville, panties falling from the ceiling on to the crowd, chickens, dolls, boas, gothic appearances. Nothing was too crazy for them.

This documentary did, however, clear up the whole biting the head off of live chickens thing. It turns out, that Alice didn’t really bite the head off of a live chicken. They threw a live chicken into an audience full of hippies, and when they threw it back on stage, it was dead.

Interviewed live at the Tribeca Film Festival,

THE Alice Cooper shared with me,

“My whole life has been a doc op. Super Duper Alice Cooper is a very theatrical documentary. It goes just beyond documentary. It’s as theatrical as the character I play. What shocks ME, Alice Cooper? How anemic rock is right now. There needs to be more rock and roll out there.”

“Keep on Keepin’ On” Documentary about Jazz Legend, Clark Terry (Trumpeter)

Keep On Keepin' On
Keep On Keepin' On

The jazz performance at the end of the movie and music event exclusive for Amex card members, for the film entitled, Keep on Keepin’ On on Saturday night, April 19, 2014, may have been in the top 10, if not the #1 event, from the highlights of the Tribeca Film Festival since it’s inception. Five beautiful jazz songs were performed by a myriad of artists, one of whom being, a student of Clark Terry’s, Justin Kauflin, on piano.

First time film director from Australia, Alan Hicks, and ‘his mate’ Adam Hart, started documenting “Keep on Keepin’ On” five years go, and the great Quincy Jones came on as a producer.

Clark Terry  is a jazz musician (trumpeter) with a career spanning over seventy years. He was born in St. Louis, Missouri, and wanted to play the trumpet so badly, that he made one himself out of a lead pipe (mouthpiece), and a funnel (bell). His neighbors couldn’t stand the noise that the makeshift horn made, so they collected $12.50 and bought one from the pawn shop. His first big break was when he was hired by Count Basie, and then as the first black staff musician at NBC. He went on to play with and/or teach some of the jazz greats, including Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Dizzie Gillespie, Herbie Hancock, and Quincy Jones. In fact, Quincy Jones was Clark Terry’s first student, and Clark left the Duke Ellington band to join Quincy Jones eleven years later. He has been inducted into the Jazz at Lincoln Center Nesuhi Ertegun Jazz Hall of Fame, and rewarded with the 2010 Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. He has two Grammy certificates, and three Grammy nominations.

Keep On Keeping On

Clark or (C.T.), believes in mentoring and giving back to the community. He stated, “my dreams of playing the horn came true, and now it is my turn to make others’ dreams come true.” C.T. has taken countless students under his wing, one of whom, mentioned earlier, is Justin Kauflin.

Justin lost his vision from exudative retinopathy when he was in the sixth grade. Knowing he was unable to play video games or basketball anymore, he sat down at the piano and fell in love with it. While practicing to be a jazz pianist, he said to his mother, ‘I wish something bad would happen to me so I could play the piano like the famous jazz musicians.’ His mom would hesitantly say, ‘Honey, you just lost your sight, isn’t that bad enough.’ and Justin replied, ‘Naw, what these guys went through is much worse.’

C.T. has had diabetes for over 60 years, and as a result, has been losing his vision too. Justin and Clark could relate to one another in that regard.

Clark Terry’s advise,

“You have to have a desire to excel.”

“You have to want to play better than everybody else.”

“Other students don’t study themselves. You have to know your shortcomings and work on them.”

“Whatever you are doing, do it well.”

“Find your own voice.”

“Don’t copy.”

“If someone believes in you, it makes you believe in yourself more.”

The Kidnapping of Michel Houellebecq a film by Guillaume Nicloux (France)

The Kidnapping of Michel Houellebecq
The Kidnapping of Michel Houellebecq

Special Jury Mention: The Kidnapping of Michel Houellebecq (L’enlèvement de Michel Houellebecq) directed by Guillaume Nicloux (France). The announcement was made by Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal

Best Screenplay The Kidnapping of Michel Houellebecq, written and directed by Guillaume Nicloux (France). Winner receives $5,000 sponsored by DreamWorks Animation. The award was given by Bart Freundlich.

Jury Comments: “This screenwriter put a bodybuilder, a gypsy, a prostitute, and a world renowned poet in handcuffs at a dinner table and made it feel right. When a film’s language feels so natural as to make the viewer completely forget that a screenplay was written, the writer deserves special acknowledgement.”

The Kidnapping of Michel Houellebecq

Award winning author, filmmaker, and poet, Michel Houllebecq, went missing on September 16, 2011. So began the controversy about this controversial writer. Was it a kidnapping, was he delusional, or was it planned? You may ask, ‘how can this be a comedy?’

This comedy/drama begins with Michel (played by himself), as an older, mellow writer walking around town, running errands and nonchalantly chatting with his neighbors. As he gets back home, and off the elevator to open his apartment door, three large men follow him inside, put tape over his mouth, ask him to hold the front page of the newspaper, take a polaroid photo of him, and transport him about an hour away to a French suburb.

When he gets to their house, he finds himself handcuffed to a bed, and hesitant to call for help to tend to his basic needs, for example, to smoke, use the bathroom and read. Flabbergasted, he quickly learns that the kidnappers are extremely nice to him. Catering to his every need, they invite him to eat with them at the dinner table, they smoke cigarettes and held conversations together, and even held birthday parties wearing fun party masks. Showing their faces, they admitted to Michel who they were and why they did what they did. One admitted to being a gypsy, another, a body builder, another, a call girl, and an older married Polish couple whose house it is. Patiently awaiting ransom money from the President of France, Francois Hollande, they sit and shoot the breeze.

Do they get the ransom money? Do they let Michel go?

Article by Sharon Abella

One World Cinema