Highlights of the XPN Music Film Festival

Posted: April 24, 2012

Big Easy Express. Directed by Emmett Malloy (The White Stripes Under Great Northern Lights), Big Easy Express rides the rails across the western United States, chronicling a five-city tour with the simpatico folk bands Mumford & Sons, Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, and Old Crow Medicine Show, playing and singing their own songs before climaxing with a cover of Woody Guthrie’s “This Train Is Bound for Glory.” Thursday at 8 p.m. at the Zellerbach Theatre, Annenberg Center.

Charles Bradley: Soul of America. Poull Brien’s documentary focuses on Charles Bradley, who looks back on a life of poverty and struggle and, with the help of Daptones Records founder Gabriel Roth, transforms himself from a James Brown cover act to a soul singer with a singular sound who releases his debut album at age 62. Friday at 5 p.m. at the Prince Theatre, Annenberg Center.

Girl Walk?//?All Day. In what’s sure to be the most energetic and probably the most fun screening of the festival, Jacob Krupnick’s movie follows three dancers moving across New York to the music of Girl Talk’s 2010 album All Day. Since the album consists of 372 unlicensed samples, the movie is not likely to be commercially released anytime soon, which should make this standing-only showing on multiple screens that much more of a rare treat. Friday at 9 p.m. at World Cafe Live upstairs.

The Wrecking Crew. This 2008 doc is another movie that can be seen only at festivals. In this case, it’s because it was too expensive for filmmaker Denny Tedesco to obtain the rights to the innumerable hits by everyone from Ricky Nelson and the Beach Boys to Frank Sinatra and Sonny and Cher, all of whom are backed by members of this crack studio-musican collective, which included bassist Carol Kaye, drummer Hal Blaine, and Tedesco’s father, Tommy. Danny Tedesco will take questions after both screenings — Saturday at 5 p.m. at Montgomery Theatre, Annenberg Center, and Sunday at 1:50 p.m. at the Prince Theatre, Annenberg Center.

Under African Skies. Directed by Joe Berlinger — half of the team behind the Metallica movie Some Kind of Monster and the three West Memphis Three documentaries — Under African Skies follows Paul Simon back to South Africa, where he meets up again with the musicians who played with him on his acclaimed 1986 township-jive?/singer-songwriter album Graceland. Sunday at 7:30 p.m. at the Zellerbach Theatre, Annenberg Center.

— Dan DeLuca

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