Diverse subjects make for a great distraction

Reel Music Film Festival
Guild Theatre and Whitsell Auditorium
Jan. 3-Feb. 9
Check www.nwfilm.com for complete schedule and prices.

Anyone who was fortunate enough to have a little loan money left over from tuition is probably wondering how to celebrate. May I recommend going to a movie every night for the next month?

Beginning last week and continuing through Feb. 9, the Reel Music Film Festival will be showing a different, and always intriguing, music-related film darn near every night of the week.

While a few soon-to-be-classics have already been shown since the festival started on Jan. 3, there is no shortage of excitement still to come.

Anyone interested in jazz and blues should not be discouraged by the events that I will be highlighting in this article, as there are plenty of films that you are sure to enjoy.

My taste, however, does not cover nearly everything that the festival offers, and interested parties will just have to check the complete schedule on their own, which covers musical territory as diverse as Miles Davis, Ravi Shankar and They Might Be Giants.

On Jan. 10, only a fool would miss German director Mika Kaurismaki’s documentary of current Brazilian music, deftly titled “Sound of Brazil.”

Covering everything from spontaneous street performances to live concert footage, Kaurismaki’s film moves beyond the familiar realm of samba and bossa nova and shows how Brazilian music has been influenced by musicians from Africa, Portugal and Arab nations.

The very next evening, producer Christopher Craycroft will be introducing his film “Breath Control: The History of the Human Beat Box,” chronicling the vital hip-hop instrument from its pioneers, including Doug E. Fresh and Biz Markie, to its current advocates, such as Rahzel and Scratch of the Roots.

The film incorporates interviews, live performances, archival footage and animation to create a unique half-historical, half-tutorial look at humans as actual instruments. As Rahzel, Godfather of Noize, declares, “This is the real hip-hop: no turntables, no band and no type of mechanical devices. Just the mic in my hand.”

Also impossible to ignore will be “Richard Rodgers: The Sweetest Sound,” a biographical and analytical look at the composer, best known for his work with Oscar Hammerstein, of “The Sound of Music,” “The King and I,” “Oklahoma!” and more than 70 other shows.

In additional to rare film clips, including Rodgers himself discussing his life and work, the film also includes personal interviews with his daughters and the professional perspectives of such artists as Julie Andrews, Diahann Carroll, John Mauceri, and the infamous Andrew Lloyd Webber, among many others. Director Roger Sherman has created the definitive biography, showing why Rodgers remains the most played composer who ever lived.

Before running out of space, I must throw in a word about the much-deserved documentary, playing two nights, about 1960s Czechoslovakia’s extremely controversial revolutionary free-form rock group, The Plastic People of the Universe.

Living in America, it may be hard to imagine a situation in which song lyrics could result in an artist’s imprisonment and the fate of a country could be stirred by a rock ‘n’ roll band, but that is exactly what happened with The Plastic People of the Universe.

Come hear their extraordinary story, with an introduction by Lou Reed, on Jan. 30 and 31.