Amazon takes a ‘Long Strange Trip’

Amazon Studios has snapped up rights to the six-part Grateful Dead documentary "Long Strange Trip." The docu, directed by Amir Bar-Lev and overseen by Martin Scorsese, debuts on the Amazon Prime streaming service May 26. "Stranger than fiction -- a user's guide for an impossible journey," drummer Hart said of the project. The 4-hour "Long Strange Trip" premieres Jan. 23 at the Sundance Film Festival, with Dead veterans Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann and Bob Weir on hand to toast the project. Director Bar-Lev is a festival regular. Bar-Lev made the acclaimed 2007 documentary "My Kids Could Paint That" as well as 2010's "Tillman." He was attached to an ill-fated Jerry Garcia biopic with the working title "Dark Star" back in 2010. Executive producer Scorsese said: "I've always … [Read more...]

Dead’s movie close-up from Foxboro

Another Grateful Dead tradition comes of age -- go figure. The sixth annual Grateful Dead Meet-Up at the Movies is set for May 11, with the screening of an unreleased concert from July 1989. The Dead movie night again comes via the band's label, Rhino, and the cinema one-off specialist Fathom Events. The main event is the entire Dead concert from Sullivan Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts, dating back to July 2, 1989. It was the "tour-opening show from what would be one of the Dead's best tours of their final 15 years of performing," organizers say. Key tracks at the Sullivan Stadium show included 12 minutes of "Friend of the Devil," a rare opening of "Playin' in the Band," and "Eyes of the World." The gig featured an extra helping of psychedelic-era covers, including "Queen … [Read more...]

‘The Other One’: Bob Weir docu shines

"I've led kind of an unusual life," says Bob Weir, in a moment of understatement. "I've seen stuff that no one has seen," the guitarist adds, bringing to mind that "Blade Runner" replicant in the rain. And yes, Weir says, quoting himself: "It's been a long strange trip." The rhythm guitarist for the Grateful Dead steps out of the long shadow of Jerry Garcia in the documentary "The Other One," which just made its public debut streaming on Netflix. The film, by Mike Fleiss, offers a splendid collection of clips, some fine musical performances by Weir and recent collaborators, and of course a snoutful of nostalgia for Grateful Dead fans. It's an entertaining, fast-moving film whose revelations will be revelations only to non-fans. The documentary likes to stay in … [Read more...]

Dead’s movie night from Alpine Valley

Time to Meet-Up at the Movies for the fifth time, Grateful Dead loyalists. The 2015 edition of the annual movie night is set for Monday, May 4, featuring the Dead in performance from 1989, at the Alpine Valley Music Theatre in Wisconsin. It was the final gig of the Dead's three-night residency in Alpine Valley (near East Troy). The July 19, 1989, show ran almost three hours, with the band working extra hard for rain-soaked fans. "It was our Woodstock," one Wisconsin native recalls. While the big-screen video is billed as "never before seen," the set 1 closers of "West L.A. Fadeaway," "Desolation Row" and "Deal" were included on the concert video "Downhill From Here." That title was released on VHS and then DVD in the late '90s. Highlights include "Sugaree," "Box of Rain," "The … [Read more...]

‘The Substance’: LSD’s long strange trip

"High" on LSD doesn't quite cover it. The hallucinogenic drug provided such a mind-altering experience that almost all users of the 1960s swore off the stuff, sooner or later. Mostly sooner. As a social phenomenon (and widespread social problem), LSD's run lasted only a few twisted years in the 1960s. But its influence lingers, like some never-ending flashback. Martin Witz's splendid documentary "The Substance: Albert Hofmann's LSD" artfully incorporates archival footage, new interviews and clips from anti-drug propaganda films -- feeling at times more like a science fiction film than documentary. It tracks the bizarre drug from its first synthesis in a Swiss laboratory in 1948 to modern-day efforts to use it in treatment of people with terminal illnesses. Icarius Films has … [Read more...]

Ouch! The Rutles returning on Blu-ray

The Rutles' tragical mystery tour continues -- this time rolling out in high def and 5.1 audio. Eric Idle's faux Fabs return in "The Rutles: Anthology," a Blu-ray/DVD pack that hits these shores Dec. 3. Included, of course, is "All You Need Is Cash," the original 1978 TV special, which was produced by "SNL" chieftain Lorne Michaels. The rock mockumentary is widely credited as inspiration for the more ambitious (and more successful) "Spinal Tap." The title is making its bow in HD and on Blu-ray, sourced from the original film stock. The telefilm last was digitally restored for its 30th anniversary in 2008, followed by a DVD rerelease. The four Rutles were played by Monty Python's Idle, Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band comic Neil Innes, Beach Boys veteran Ricky Fataar and drummer John … [Read more...]

‘Daydream’ movie bows for Dead meet-up

The unreleased Grateful Dead movie "Sunshine Daydream" is the featured attraction for this summer's "Meet Up at the Movies." The 16mm concert film -- restored in high-definition -- was shot in Venta, Oregon, in 1972, several months after the Dead wrapped its Europe '72 tour and a few weeks before the marathon show in Boulder, Colo. The rural concert shown in "Sunshine Daydream" is known in Grateful Dead lore as the "Field Trip." One-off specialist Fathom Events presents the Dead "Meet Up" for the third straight year. "Sunshine Daydream" screens Aug. 1 at 7 p.m. local time, with multiple venues in most big cities. (Sorry, Canada.) That's the 71st anniversary of Jerry Garcia's birthday, as any party-hat-wearing Deadhead will tell you. The benefit concert, shot in a mid-August … [Read more...]

‘Jimi Plays Berkeley’ goes Blu-ray

The famed and controversial Jimi Hendrix concert film "Jimi Plays Berkeley" returns in a "restored and newly expanded" edition July 10. The Blu-ray and DVD version of the film contains more than 15 minutes of previously unreleased performance and documentary footage, the Hendrix estate said. Bonus footage apparently comes from "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)," "Machine Gun" and "Hear My Train A Comin.'" Longtime Hendrix engineer Eddie Kramer mixed the 5.1 surround stereo soundtrack for Experience Hendrix and Sony Legacy Recordings. The expanded "Jimi Plays Berkeley" includes an audio-only recording of the second set from that famed concert. It, too, features a new 5.1 mix. That recording runs more than an hour and includes performances of "Pass It On (Straight Ahead)," "Hey … [Read more...]

Dead on DVD: the stash from Shout!

There is no such thing as too much Grateful Dead, apparently. Adding to the mountain of Dead software that's been released in the past 12 months, we have on the horizon the 14-DVD box set "All the Years Combine: The DVD Collection" from Shout! Factory. The Dead box set drops April 17, just in time for workingman Dead fans to tap their tax refund checks for the $100. Shout! as you may recall rereleased "The Grateful Dead Movie" in high definition Nov. 1. The movie (this time in standard def) anchors the upcoming DVD box set. Second billed is "The Closing of Winterland," a lengthy and well-regard Dead-only film that Rhino originally released to DVD in 2003. The double-DVD has about four hours of footage from the last night of Winterland on New Years Eve 1978. Then there's … [Read more...]

‘Magic Trip’ film: journey through the past

The Merry Pranksters ride again, in the acid-drenched documentary feature "Magic Trip: Ken Kesey's Search for a Kool Place." The Pranksters, of course, were the pack of bohemian youth who gathered around the hipster novelist Kesey. With beat generation icon Neal Cassady behind the wheel of an old school bus, they traveled across the country, in search of the New York World's Fair and ... Whatever. The bus, carrying the destination sign of "Furthur," was painted wildly, in tune with the soon-to-come psychedelic aesthetic. One Prankster called it a "traveling pleasure palace." Many historians point to this happening as the big bang that unleashed the psychedelic era. Kesey ("One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest") had taken part in government-sponsored LSD experiments five years earlier … [Read more...]

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