MUSIC DOC/FOLK ROCK
Bob Dylan: Odds and Ends
This collection of promotional reels and other footage of Bob Dylan from the early ’60s to the mid-’70s, pieced together by John Hillcoat and Jennifer Lebeau, is intended for Dylan completists. The folk singer from Minnesota got his start in Greenwich Village where he played at clubs like Café Wha. He switched gears and went electric at the Newport Folk Festival and then during his European tour in 1966, incurring the wrath of angry fans who booed him mercilessly to the point he didn’t tour again until 1974. Considerable time is spent on the treasure trove of Basement Tapes recordings with The Band in Woodstock. Plus, John Lennon, Johnny Cash and Panic in Needle Park director Jerry Schatzberg make appearances.
MUSIC DOC/'60S CLASSIC ROCK
Brian Wilson: Long Promised Road
Rolling Stone’s Jason Fine interviews the head Beach Boy.
Dubbed the worst movie of 2021 by Variety, this is yet another opioid saga in a year of many. Brothers Anthony and Joe Russo work hard to establish solid reasons why the title character, played by “Spider Man” Tom Holland, goes so far off the rails. After a tour in Iraq, he comes home with PTSD, starts taking pills and then, along with his wife Emily (Ciara Bravo), descends into a life of heroin addiction. Somehow Cherry pulls off a series of bank robberies, but finally gets caught and sent to jail. Despite some harrowing adventures, the doped-up couple manage to survive in this junkie saga.
City of Lies
Fans of Donnie Brasco will appreciate Johnny Depp’s turn as relentless LAPD detective Russell Poole in Brad Furman’s policer. Like Serpico, Poole tries to expose corruption in the department and pays for it with cold shoulders, warnings and worse. He connects LAPD to the death of Notorious B.I.G. in 1997, yet the case remains unsolved. There’s a reenactment of the drive-by shooting that took Biggie’s life. Eighteen years later, Oscar winner Forest Whitaker as Los Angeles Times reporter Jack Jackson urges Poole to reopen the investigation. Except for a brief cameo by B.I.G.’s mother Voletta, there are no significant female roles. The documentary Biggie: I Have a Story to Tell was also released this year.
Cocaine Cowboys: The Kings of Miami
Square Grouper director Bill Corben tells the story of Willie Falcon and Sal Makluta, two of Florida’s most notorious cocaine smugglers in the ’70s and ’80s, over six episodes.
BONUS: POT SCENE
Coming 2 America
In a flashback, King Akeem (Eddie Murphy) smokes a joint with Mary (Leslie Jones).
Crack: Cocaine, Corruption & Conspiracy
Director Stanley Nelson has had a big year with Attica on Showtime and this examination of the War on Drugs, with a special focus on ’80s “wonder drug” crack. The decade goes by in a Just-Say-No blur with the Reagan White House on the one hand escalating Nixon’s drug war, but on the other “collaborating with drug smugglers to overthrow the Sandinistas” in Nicaragua. It started with the secret sale of missiles to Iran. That money was used to back the Contras vs. the Sandinistas. In turn, the Contras flooded Los Angeles with cocaine; their main dealer Freeway Ricky Ross processed it into crack, the smokable and cheaper form. In no time, the ghetto areas of America were inundated with the drug. But we pretty much know all this already. Nelson’s storytellers make the difference. Dr. Carl Hart, Harry Levine, Eric Sterling, Asha Bandele and Nelson George head up a great cast of experts. Clearly, no rock was left unturned in the making of Crack.