Two Documentaries from TVA Films
Live Forever (March 19/10)
Live Forever is a comprehensive rock 'n roll documentary detailing the rise and fall of the Britpop phenomenon in the 1990s, as filmmaker John Dower offers up an all-encompassing look at the musical movement's creation by both exploring the social change within Britain at the time and by speaking to many of the scene's most pivotal figures - including Oasis' Liam and Noel Gallagher, Blur's Damon Albarn, Pulp's Jarvis Cocker, and Massive Attack's Robert del Naja. The inherently fascinating nature of the subject matter initially makes it easy to overlook Dower's penchant for going off-topic, although it's hard to deny that one's patience does start to grow thin as the movie progresses. Even during its more overtly less-than-enthralling stretches, however, Live Forever possesses an amiable atmosphere that's primarily fueled by its nostalgia factor - as Dower places a consistent emphasis on the songs that defined Britpop (ie Oasis' "Wonderwall," Blur's "Parklife," Supergrass' "Alright," etc). There's subsequently little doubt that the movie is at its best when focused on the people and bands directly associated with the era, and while some of the behind-the-scenes tidbits are admittedly quite interesting (ie the battle between Blur and Oasis for chart domination), it's the interviews that finally elevate Live Forever above its musically-themed documentary brethren - with Liam Gallagher's brutally honest demeanor ensuring that his responses are a highlight (ie asked if he was upset not to be invited to the Prime Minister's residence with his brother, Liam remarks, "it looks like a shit house anyway.") The end result is a film that's clearly been designed to appeal to a very specific audience, yet - despite Dower's sporadic reliance on entirely needless elements (ie an interview with members of an Oasis cover band) - Live Forever ultimately stands as an effective primer into the world of Britpop.
Paris Not France (March 20/10)
Running a scant 68 minutes, Paris Not France establishes itself as a passable documentary detailing the comings and goings of notorious heiress Paris Hilton - with the film's mild success ultimately trumped by the needlessness of its subject matter (ie there's only so much of Hilton's antics one can reasonably be expected to take). Director Adria Petty reliance on aggressively obnoxious visuals - ie slow-motion cinematography, rapid-fire editing, shifts into black-and-white, etc - ensures that the movie is initially as slick and superficial as its subject, yet there does reach a point at which the filmmaker tones down her unreasonably over-the-top stylistic sensibilities and offers up a relatively intriguing look behind the scenes at Hilton's chaotic life. Hilton's willingness to speak openly about the various controversies that have dogged her over the years - ie the infamous sex tape scandal - proves instrumental in the movie's shift from unwatchable mess to sporadically compelling documentary, as the reality star is primarily painted as a savvy businesswoman who has exploited her spoiled-brat image for all that it's worth. And while the movie does feature several pointed jabs at the celeb-obsessed media and even boasts a few laugh-out-loud interludes (ie Hilton must contend with a roomful of sycophantic brand executives), Paris Not France ultimately possesses the feel of a 30-minute television special that's been ungainly expanded to over an hour - although fans of the would-be singer/author/actress might be willing to forgive the film's indulgent atmosphere.