The Wrecking Crew
⋆⋆⋆ out of four stars
Rating: PG for language, thematic elements and smoking.
The success of the 2012 Oscar-winning documentary “20 Feet From Stardom” about backup singers may have reopened the door for “The Wrecking Crew,” a rock doc about the anonymous Los Angeles studio musicians who played on “Good Vibrations,” “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ ” and scores of other hits of the 1960s.
After 12 years of work, director Denny Tedesco — son of Wrecking Crew guitarist Tommy Tedesco — finished the film in 2008 but ran into a roadblock: It would cost more than $300,000 for the rights to use parts of more than 130 songs by the likes of the Beach Boys, Byrds, Monkees and Phil Spector. Tedesco raised the funds via Kickstarter, enabling the film to finally get widespread distribution.
The crisply edited film features old clips and photos but mostly recent interviews with members of the Wrecking Crew — including guitarist Glen Campbell, pianist Leon Russell and drummer Hal Blaine — and such recording stars as Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys, Cher and Herb Alpert. A must-see for liner-note readers.
THE SALT OF THE EARTH
⋆⋆⋆ out of four stars
Rating: PG-13 for disturbing images of violence and human suffering, and nudity.
With a photo exhibition or book, you set your own clock, spending as much time or as little inside a particular image as you like. But in this compelling new documentary about photographer Sebastiao Salgado, it becomes clear early on just how odd it is to experience a photographer’s work on someone else’s timetable. Co-directors Wim Wenders and Juliano Ribeiro Salgado (the photographer’s son) linger on certain canvases of catastrophe or human suffering while darting off others, and often I found myself engaging in an internal monologue: Wait! Go back! At other times, Salgado’s devastating images of famine and genocide victims became nearly too much to bear.
The film is a moving account of one man’s global exploration, and how ecological awareness and a desire to go home again repaired his soul after processing so much inhumanity. “The Salt of the Earth” begins with photos taken at Brazil’s Serra Pelada gold mine, where some 50,000 workers toiled like slaves, without machinery. The sight, Salgado says, threw him out of the present and into the realm of ancient civilizations, all built on the same thing: greed, economic inequality and dirt-cheap labor.
Salgado appears incapable of fashioning an unsightly image, even when it might be called for. Among others, Susan Sontag has characterized Salgado as a specialist in “world misery,” reducing his human subjects “to their powerlessness” and their agonies. Wenders, however, is most interested in how Salgado restored his family’s nearly barren ranch land to a thriving, emerald-green ecosystem.
MICHAEL PHILLIPS, Chicago Tribune
BEYOND THE REACH
⋆⋆ out of four stars
Rating: R for violence.
Theater: Mall of America.
The 1924 short story “The Most Dangerous Game,” about a hunter who longs to take a shot at human beings, is an enduring thriller formula. The hunter’s unarmed prey must outwit and turn the tables on the rich psychopath. You mess with that can’t-miss formula at your own peril, as “Beyond the Reach” demonstrates.
Jeremy Irvine (“War Horse”) is Ben, “the best tracker in the county” in his corner of the desert Southwest. He’s summoned to take super-rich businessman Madec (Michael Douglas) in search of a trophy bighorn sheep. Madec is impatient and trigger-happy. There’s an accident. And Ben, the lone eyewitness, needs to run off into the desert with nothing but his watch and his underwear.
Irvine is convincing as a wary kid who’s a little slow on the uptake but with the skills and physique to stay alive as Gordon Gekko with Guns tracks him. Douglas makes a good villain out of a cardboard construction, but French director Jean-Baptiste Léonetti (“Carre Blanc”) and producer/screenwriter Stephen Susco (the American remake of “The Grudge”) trip over themselves trying to invent fresh wrinkles in this Man vs. Man vs. The Elements tale, with a finale that goes completely off the rails.
Roger Moore, Orlando Sentinel