Straight Outta L.A. – Here’s your guilty pleasure for the year. The brainchild of Ice Cube, Straight Outta L.A. takes a look at the emergence of gangsta rap during the 12-year period when the Oakland Raiders made the temporary – and by most accounts, disastrous – move to Los Angeles. Complete with an old-school rap soundtrack, Straight Outta L.A. chronicles a time when N.W.A. ruled the streets, Marcus Allen and Howie Long ruled the field, and the city loved them both.
My Own Love Song – An Oscar campaign if I’ve heard one, Renee Zelwegger, who plays a wheelchair-stricken singer (who sings her own material throughout My Own Love Song), teams up with Forrest Whitaker for this feel-good road movie. This film also includes some original soundtrack music by Bob Dylan. This likely won’t be the last you hear from this one. Trailer
Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll – Film festivals seemingly never tire of stories about the early days of punk rock, and while it’s been done to death, you can’t exactly blame them as the subject matter made way for some of the more memorable music films to date. Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll takes on a more obscure lead in Ian Dury of Ian Dury and the Blockheads for its protagonist main character. For his role as Dury, lead actor Andy Serkis – who also played Gollum in the Lord of the Rings trilogy – already earned BAFTA Award for his performance. The film reportedly includes some interesting animated segments as well. Trailer
Hard Rock Havana – This 11 minute quickie follows Cuba’s legendary metal band, Zeus, in their 20 year struggle to perform and to ultimately achieve their dreams to break out beyond Cuban borders. Trailer
White Lines & the Fever: The Death of DJ Junebug – Another short, White Lines looks at the tragic life and death of one of hip hop’s original pioneers (and closet drug dealers) DJ Junebug, and includes unseen interview footage with the likes of Kurtis Blow and DJ Hollywood. Trailer
The Spirit of Salsa – While I’m sure another dance movie is not exactly on the top of anyone’s list, the Spirit of Salsa doc is meant to include some top notch music from the likes of Tito Puente, Norah Jones and Hector Lavoe while taking an interesting cross section of characters like an equities trader, a cop and a construction worker. More Info
Billy and Aaron – While just a 10 minute short, Billy and Aaron looks to pack a dramatic punch as the film delves into the trials and tribulations surrounding 1940s jazz composer Billy Strayhorn’s decision to come out as an openly gay man. More Info
Record – Based on a true story, this short looks at the strong emotional response and memories conjured up by an old vinyl record purchased at a sidewalk sale. More Info