Noise Pop Roundup: 7 Movies to See at the Festival


The 17th annual Noise Pop Festival continues through the weekend, bringing some of the world’s most groundbreaking music and film to the Bay Area through a series of live performances (including Wallpaper’s invigorating celebration of electro-funk tonight at Slim’s) and screenings of indie documentaries about the artists whose uncompromising contributions have helped shaped our culture. Here’s what to watch.

All My Friends Are Funeral Singers
Angela Bettis (May) stars in writer-director Tim Rutili's poignant fantasy as Zel, a fortune teller who shares her home with an increasingly restless group of ghosts. When the spirits, who inform her afterlife expertise, decide they want out, Zel must face the unbearable prospect of losing the only family she's ever known. Rutili and his band, Califone (pictured), provide the movie's haunting soundtrack, with Bettis delivering a brilliantly nuanced performance as its emotional anchor. (ATA, Feb. 28, 4:15 p.m. For tickets, click here.)

Blood Into Wine
Best known to fans as the lead singer of Tool, Puscifer and A Perfect Circle – and, of course, for his amusingly offbeat cameo in last year’s Crank: High Voltage – Maynard James Keenan is, by day, a winemaker in Arizona’s Verde Valley. Ryan Page and Christopher Pomerenke’s documentary chronicles Keenan’s foray into the business, facilitated by longtime vintner Eric Glomski, and their common passion for making great wine. (Keenan also shares his thoughts on making music, and his uncertain future with Tool.) The film features special appearances by some of the singer’s celebrity friends, including Bob Odenkirk (HBO’s Mr. Show) and Patton Oswalt, but Keenan, who comes off as eloquent, sincere and endearingly aggressive, is the star of this show. (ATA, Feb. 26, 7 p.m. For tickets, click here.)

Downtown Calling
Narrated by onetime CBGB regular Debbie Harry and featuring interviews with Fab 5 Freddy, Jazzy Jay and Mos Def, Downtown Calling explains how New York's late-'70s descent into social and economic crisis coincided with one of the greatest artistic revolutions in its storied history. Director Shan Nicholson and producer Ben Velez will attend Saturday's screening and answer audience questions afterward. (ATA, Feb. 26, 9 p.m. For tickets, click here.)

Unusual Heroes: John Darnielle and Lou Barlow
Two documentaries – Rian Johnson's The Mountain Goats: Life of the World to Come and Adam Harding's Lou Barlow: Goodnight Unknown – invite us to witness the creative process as it unfolds on the screen. Johnson (Brick) delivers an impressively intimate portrait of Mountain Goats founder Darnielle (pictured) as he performs his band's latest effort, last year's Life of the World to Come, on piano and guitar, breaking the music down to its barest essentials. Unknown finds Barlow, the indie-rock pioneer behind Dinosaur Jr, Sebadoh and Folk Implosion, chronicling, in his own words, the making of his newest solo outing and sharing previously unreleased material recorded exclusively for the film. (ATA, Feb. 27, 2 p.m. For tickets, click here.)

The Secret to a Happy Ending
No, it's not that kind of happy ending. (Get your mind out of the gutter!) But while Barr Weissman's account of three turbulent years in the life of the Drive-By Truckers isn't always pretty – it captures the raucous Southern rockers at their lowest, pushed to the brink of dissolution by internal and external strife – it is illuminating (and, ultimately, hopeful) enough to satisfy both the band's most passionate fans and the uninitiated alike. (ATA, Feb. 28, 2 p.m. For tickets, click here.)

Strange Powers: Stephin Merritt and the Magnetic Fields
Intensely private, hip-hop-hating singer-songwriter Stephin Merritt is expected to attend this world-premiere screening of a new documentary about his best-known band, the Magnetic Fields, and the personal relationships that have helped inspire his artistic endeavors over the past decade. (Mezzanine, Feb. 28, 8 p.m. For tickets, click here.)

Woodstock: Now & Then
Oscar-winning documentarian Barbara Kopple (Harlan County, U.S.A.) isn't the first filmmaker to revisit Max Yasgur's farm in hopes of translating the original Woodstock's magic and chaos into rousing cinema. (She won't be the last, either.) But rather than building Now & Then around the now-legendary musical performances delivered by the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Jefferson Airplane, Kopple offers a compelling account of the festival's genesis, which was marked by hasty planning and unrealistic expectations, and its messy aftermath. First broadcast last August on VH1, her film makes no attempt to strip Woodstock of its warts-and-all beauty, as depicted most famously in Woodstock (1970), Michael Wadleigh's definitive documentary. Yet it provides Wadleigh's history with a fascinating companion piece that celebrates the festival's legacy without pulling any punches. (ATA, Feb. 27, 4 p.m. For tickets, click here.)

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