admin On settembre - 14 - 2011

Opening the Toronto kermesse with their documentary “From The Sky Down”, by Award Winner Director Davis Guggenheim, Bono and The Edge have presented their carrier in a long-movie essay on music life of one of the most influential bands of the last 20 years, U2.
From the album “Achtung Baby” dated 20 years ago, the movie by Guggenheim shots the creation of the masterpiece in Berlin studios to the last songs by the band.

Imagine a neighborhood where every home is a broken family: misery, divorce, or worse. Drive down the street and it’s every single home. That’s the unfortunate terrain of rock bands. Implosion or explosion is inevitable.   U2 has defied the gravitational pull towards destruction. Somehow, it has endured and thrived. The movie From the Sky Down asks the question why.
There are precious few acts in the music business that can match the integrity, breadth of appeal, and rugged durability of U2. Yet with the eighties drawing to a close and their epoch-making Joshua Tree album behind them, the Irish quartet had reached such dizzying heights of fame — and, some argued, arrogance — that it seemed the only thing left for them to do was fall apart like so many great rock ’n’ roll bands before them. Instead, they retreated to a German studio, revived their sense of humour, mischief and musical adventure, and ardently went about reinventing themselves. The result was 1991’s Achtung Baby, and the process of creating that astounding album is the subject of Davis Guggenheim’s exhilarating documentary From the Sky Down.
Gaining intimate access to the band as they return to Berlin’s beautiful Hansa Studios to rehearse for their Glastonbury performance of Achtung Baby, Guggenheim finds Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen, Jr. in peak form. The band has always been insistent on renovating their back catalogue for live performances. As they set about finding fresh ways to interpret songs like “The Fly,” “One” and “Even Better Than the Real Thing,” they also begin to reminisce about how those songs first came to fruition — and about the stew of personal struggles that informed them.
Bono has always been a witty, self-effacing and articulate raconteur, and his tales of coping with massive success and its inevi­table backlash are enormously entertaining.
A handful of the best stories come not from the band, however, but from some of their most esteemed collaborators, such as Brian Eno and Canadian Daniel Lanois. The pro­ducers provide fascinating descriptions of the strange, winding and often amusing journeys from inspiration to synthesis.
Drawing from a wealth of archival foot­age that’s alternately dazzling and revealing, From the Sky Down deserves a place amid the upper echelon of rock documentaries. And just as there’s nothing like seeing U2 onstage to feel the maximum thrill of their pulsating anthems, this film needs to be experienced on the big screen to fully sur­render to its rush.

Not only the Irish band has been at the focus of the cine-festival of Toronto: also Pearl Jam have recently presented at TFF their Cameron Crowe’s “Twenty”, a documentary on their “Ten” album birth, from the Director of one of the best movies on music world, “Almost Famous”, adding to
Neil Young Journeys,” Jonathan Demme‘s production of the singer’s two concerts at Toronto’s Massey Hall in May.
Pearl Jam Twenty” offers  the history of the group that helped  put Seattle on the musical map, like Nirvana. The film tracks the group’s rise from local grunge band to superstars packing arenas and stadiums around the world.

Playing in a band is really a delicate thing,” Vedder told reporters in Toronto. “If you’ve ever tried to order a pizza with five people, it’s difficult. … So we’ve been very fortunate.”

Pearl Jam takes the usual rock story and turns it on its head,” said Crowe, “the usual rock story is incredible promise, a brief period of brilliance, then tragedy cuts it short. Pearl Jam is exactly the opposite. It’s a tragedy that was surmounted. These guys found joy through survival. The Holy Grail was the film of Kurt Cobain and Eddie slow-dancing backstage at the 1992 Video Music Awards, Eric Clapton was playing ‘Tears in Heaven’ at the time. It’s so powerful because it’s such a human moment.”

How do you explain Pearl Jam’s twenty-year run? In 1991, the band’s first album, Ten, struck a zeitgeist chord with its guitar anthems and dark themes. Songs like “Alive” and “Even Flow” helped make alternative rock a leading force on the airwaves. Even if you weren’t a follower, you couldn’t miss the image of long hair, plaid shirts and onstage intensity. But for an alternative rock band, the toughest thing to overcome, besides failure, is success. Pearl Jam frequently found itself the target of controversy — cast as rivals to Nirvana, taking a stand against Ticketmaster, associated with a festival tragedy — that would test the mettle of any band. Yet for twenty years they’ve continued to make music vital to their fans. How did that happen?

Director Cameron Crowe is a perfect fit to tell this story. He was an early fan of the band, casting its members in his 1992 film Singles, set in the Seattle music scene. Shortly before then, former members of Mother Love Bone (rhythm guitarist Stone Gossard and bassist Jeff Ament) had connected with lead guitarist Mike McCready. Their demo tape wound up in the hands of Eddie Vedder, a San Diego surfer whose lead vocals produced a howling baritone. Later, Matt Cameron took the position of drummer. And that Pearl Jam lineup has lasted to this day.

In Pearl Jam Twenty, Crowe elicits reflective interviews with the band on their breakthroughs and challenges. The documentary interweaves these conversations with a rich archive of older interviews and performances, taking us back to the time when “grunge” was the buzzword.

From early on, Pearl Jam earned a reputation for delivering powerful concerts. In memorable footage from the nineties, we see the athletic Vedder climb the stage scaffolding and dive into the audience on several occasions. He’s since cut back on those death-defying stunts, but the band has never stopped putting tremendous faith in its fans.

By Ilaria Rebecchi

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