Arts & Culture Blog
From Monterey Pop to the Mexican Revolution
March 28, 2011
SCENES ALONG THE ROAD: The great documentary filmmaker Richard Leacock, who died last week, was the camera operator, along with Albert (“Gimme Shelter’’) Maysles, of D.A. Pennebaker’s “Monterey Pop,’’ probably the greatest rock film ever made.
Leacock helped develop the “cinema verite’’ style that brought immediacy and directness to movies, whether it was the carefree ease with which the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival was documented – capturing the excitement of the moment in a way that its successors, including “Woodstock,’’ never duplicated.
He also brought the same attentive eye to “Primary,’’ his famous 1960 documentary about the Wisconsin presidential primary between then-candidate John F. Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey, foreshadowing subsequent films like Pennebaker’s “The War Room,’’ co-directed by Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus, about Bill Clinton’s campaign.
Here’s a clip from “Monterey Pop’’ of the great L.A. band Buffalo Springfield, which is currently in the throes of preparing a reunion tour. They sound a little ragged, but nobody did the particular thing that they did better. The same can be said for Richard Leacock.
WHOLE WORLD WAS WATCHING: In other sad news, Bill Monning passes on the word that long-time activist lawyer Leonard Weinglass , has died at 77.
Described by the New York Times as “perhaps the nation’s pre-eminent progressive lawyer,’’ Weinglass took on cases including the defense of the Chicago Eight (their numbers were later narrowed to seven when Black Panther Party leader Bobby Seale’s case was severed from that of the others), charged with conspiracy to commit a riot at the Democratic National Convention in 1968.
Five of the defendants were convicted, but the verdict of what was in fact a police riot was overturned on appeal. Weinglass also went on to defend Daniel Ellsberg in the Pentagon Papers case, and members of the Symbionese Liberation Army and the Weather Underground.
I’m dating myself, I know, but I was in the streets of Chicago (and the fields of Monterey Pop), and I think Weinglass’ efforts in those often farcical hearings were among his finest moments.
Here’s a clip from Pacific Street Film’s Court TV documentary on the Chicago Eight, featuring some rare moments from Bobby Seale.
REVOLUTIONARY CINEMA: Speaking of politics and film, the Monterey Bay Film Festival debuts April 8 with a showing of “Revolucion,’’ a collaborative work by ten South American filmmakers dealing with the 100-year-old legacy of the Mexican revolution. Director Rodrigo Garcia, the son of novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who directed a segment called “7th and Alvarado,’’ will be attending the screening, at 7 pm at Lighthouse Cinemas in Pacific Grove. Tickets are $9 general admission, $6.50 for students. More programs, including works by teen filmmakers, and a program curate by Sundance associate programmer Mike Plante, take place Saturday, April 9 at CSUMB’s World Information: www.montereybayfilmfestival.com, 582-4580. For a rundown of the lineup, check out the Weekly.