DOCS, PART 2
“Studio wasn’t a nightclub, it was a social experiment,” says co-founder Ian Schrager in Matt Tyrnauer’s Studio 54, about the Manhattan gay disco that was the center of New York’s celebrity universe for a short time in the late ‘70s. Brooklyn-born college friends Schrager and Steve Rubell teamed up on the venture and soon were hobnobbing with Michael Jackson, Liza Minnelli, Andy Warhol and Calvin Klein. But bad business practices sinked the club and sent the owners to jail for tax evasion. Schrager would reinvent himself as an hotelier and Rubell eventually succumbed to AIDS. Since Rubell passed away in 1989, it’s Schrager’s story to tell and he does so with candor.
The many lives of jazz musician and record producer Quincy Jones are chronicled in Quincy, a family-produced affair with daughter Rashida (and Alan Hicks) at the helm. Now 85, Jones survived a brain aneuryrsm when he was 41 and more recent medical emergencies for diabetic and heart-related issues, A hard drinker and cigarette smoker, Jones managed to survive to tell his story of a boy who grew up in Chicago in a racist America and broke one barrier after another en route to becoming one of America’s musical legends, ultimately teaming up with some of the biggest stars ever - Frank Sinatra, Michael Jackson and Ray Charles. Married three times with seven children, the Jones brood populates the film like an ongoing family reunion. Too bad Rashida shies away from asking tough questions. Netflix
The Gilligan Manifesto
Cevin Soling’s The Gilligan Manifesto traces post-World War II nuclear angst as it relates to seven characters marooned on an island for 98 episodes on CBS from 1964-1967. To Soling, Gilligan’s Island is a metaphor for society in the ‘60s when clashes over class and war would splinter the country. The title character, played with laconic bemusement by Bob Denver, is an update of his hipster doofus, Maynard G, Krebs from The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis. The other six portray typical American archetypes: the snob (Jim Baccus as Thurston and Natalie Schaefer as Lovey), the sexpot (Tina Louise as Ginger), the disempowered (Alan Hale Jr, as the Skipper), the professor (Russell Johnson as Roy) and the farm girl (Dawn Wells as Mary Ann). Interviews with living cast members and show creator Sherwood Schwartz round out this unusual film.