Anyone bummed out by the cancellation of this spring’s New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, and who missed WWOZ’s recent streaming broadcast, Festing in Place, featuring archival performances from past Jazz Fests, should appreciate the music documentary “Up From the Streets — New Orleans: The City of Music.”
Narrated by jazz musician Terence Blanchard, the film is a comprehensive history of, and love letter to, the music of the Big Easy, known for its musical gumbo arising from French, Spanish, African, Native American and Caribbean influences. Mixing interviews with performance footage ranging from Louis Armstrong to Quiana Lynell, “Up From the Streets” emphasizes not just the sounds of its subject city, but its spirit, making the point that there’s a difference between small-s soul music and Soul music. That ineffable quality is, the film argues, forged from bonds between family (whether named Marsalis, Neville, or nobody you ever heard of), neighbors, communities and disparate races, all coming together to make something beautiful and universal. “Up From the Streets” is about more than music: It’s a celebration of connection. Unrated. Available May 15 at theavalon.org, afisilver.afi.com, jxjdc.org, themiracletheatre.com and cinemaartstheatre.com. Contains nothing objectionable. 104 minutes. On Saturday at 7 p.m., there will be a live, virtual Q&A with jazz musician Terence Blanchard and director Michael Murphy, available at watch.eventive.org/upfromthestreets.
- Michael O’Sullivan
There's a kernel of truth to "The Wolf House," a marvelous Chilean stop-motion animation loosely inspired by the history of Colonia Dignidad ("Dignity Colony"). La Colonia, as it was known, was a compound established in 1961 in southern Chile - ostensibly as a charitable mission - by an evangelical German megalomaniac, pedophile and former Nazi named Paul Schäfer, who offered it as a torture facility for his pal, Gen. Augusto Pinochet. But as told by directors Joaquín Cociña and Cristóbal León, the cinematic story, which only starts with the colony, is more Brothers Grimm. A young woman named Maria (voice of Amalia Kassai) flees the colony, only to be pursued by a wolf (Rainer Krause), a stand-in for Schäfer who holds her at bay inside a shack in the woods, where she encounters two pigs, whom she raises as children after they sprout human arms and legs, ultimately turning into blond Aryans. Using figures of papier-mache - and, at one point, fabric - along with a stunning visual setting that is constantly morphing from one thing to another, the filmmakers stuff this dreamlike fable with so much visual information - a swastika turns into a window - that it's almost impossible to digest everything that is going on. Shot in a variety of studios the directors set up inside art galleries and opened to the public as an ever-evolving art project, the animation calls attention to itself, showing us the wires, tape, paint and paper that went into making it. But it is never less than a stunning, haunting, unforgettable accomplishment. Unrated. At afisilver.afi.com and sunscinema.com. Contains some frightening images and mature thematic material. In Spanish and German with subtitles. 75 minutes.
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“Capone” stars Tom Hardy as the title character: the gangster Al Capone. It’s a performance that the New York Times calls “a tour de force of something - though not persuasive acting - and a distraction from any ambitions in this biopic from Josh Trank (”Chronicle"). R. Available on Amazon and Google Play. Contains strong, bloody violence, pervasive coarse language and some sexuality. 103 minutes.
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In the animated feature "Scoob!," the dog Scooby-Doo and his human detective pals Shaggy, Fred, Velma and Daphne (voices of Will Forte, Zac Efron, Amanda Seyfried and Gina Rodriguez) investigate a plot to unleash a ghost dog on the world. PG. Available via premium video on demand to rent or own. Contains some action, strong language and rude, suggestive humor. 94 minutes.
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David Spade stars in “The Wrong Missy,” a comedy about a man who accidentally invites the wrong woman to take a romantic vacation with him. Unrated. Available on Netflix. 89 minutes.
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Leonardo DiCaprio co-produced “And We Go Green,” a documentary about Formula E racing, in which all cars are electric. According to Variety, “The film winds up working at cross-purposes, alternating between an enthusiastic advertorial for green technology and a highlight reel of the 2017-18 season. This cake-and-eat-it-too approach thins out both aspects of the film, despite a few fascinating story lines that bubble up.” Unrated. Available on Hulu. 99 minutes.
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In "American Trial: The Eric Garner Story," real-life prosecutors and defense attorneys conduct an unscripted mock trial - one that never happened - of the New York police officer who was filmed choking a man in 2014, using actual evidence from the incident, and real witnesses, expert testimony and rules of criminal procedure. Viewers will be able to vote on their computers, tablets and/or smartphones on the two counts Officer Daniel Pantaleo is charged with in the film, and the "verdicts" will be announced during a live stream with filmmaker Roee Messinger and Garner's widow, Esaw Garner, on Thursday, moderated by CBS News correspondent Michelle Miller. Unrated. Available Monday-Thursday at theavalon.org. 100 minutes.
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"Barbie & Kendra Save the Tiger King" is a quickie, campy film about two fans of the runaway-hit Netflix series who set out to free the show's imprisoned subject, Joe Exotic. Described as a "coronasploitation" comedy, the film features an appearance by zookeeper John Reinke from the original Netflix docuseries. Unrated. Available on the Full Moon Features app. 72 minutes.
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“Diablo Rojo (PTY)” tells the story of a public transit driver - operator of one of the garishly decorated buses whose nickname lends the film its title (“red devil,” in Spanish) - who finds himself stranded in the countryside, where he falls victim to several folkloric fiends. Screen Anarchy calls the horror film, the first of its kind from Panama, “decent and fun.” Unrated. Available on Amazon. In Spanish with subtitles. 80 minutes.