Wednesday, September 2, 2015

GRU-PDX (2015) Opening Night Film of the Portland Film Festival 2015

The opening night film of this years Portland Film Festival was GRX-PDX which nominally follows Brazilian band Quarto Negro  as they go to Portland to record their new album. In actully it's portrait of the inde music scene in the city.

I'm torn about this film while nowhere near being a bad film the portrait of a city's music scenes has been done to death any number of times, most recently in the truly great SALAD DAYS which puts you into the DC punk scene in ways that are unnatural. That film works because it transcends the standard talking head mixed with musical performance way of doing things to make something that soars. GRX-PDX has great interviews and great music (Oh man does it have great music) but it never really jells.

A large part of the problem is the least interesting thing in the film is Quarto Negro. I didn't care about them. Its not that their music is bad, but watching them put the album together isn't as interesting as listening to everyone else talk about the music they love and thy make. Frankly the performances pieces by the other bands in the film say Radiation City doing  Foreign Bodies is much more cool than the music by our main characters. (I would list other bands that I've discovered in this film but I stopped taking notes and just listened to the music. I'll have to see this again to get all the band names)

Where GRX-PDX soars is with the music. The almost nonstop soundscape with frequent performances is what carries this film and makes it worth seeing. The music is what sets the film apart from being just another doc about a city's music.

About half way into the film and for several hours after I saw the film I was pondering why this film didn't resonate with me more. The music is there so are any number of interviews, but outside of the fact that the Brazilians didn't click with me there was something off about the film.Something is keeping this film from being an altime great instead stead of the really good one that it is. I suspect the problem comes from how the film is put together. I don't know why but the film never makes the non-musical segments interesting. yes the stories are fine, but watching people just sit at tables or stand in the studio gets boring real fast- especially when there isn't  much variation.

Truth be told somewhere in all this footage is a great film waiting to get out- until then there is a good film with great music for you to see and enjoy.

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