There are two great documentaries well worth your time to see, but they’re playing in the giant shadow of the recent opening of the car-crazies in Furious 7 (took in an astounding $147 million domestically in its first weekend, now has climbed to over $161 million making it the third-highest-grossing film of 2015 in less than a week with the top spot easily in its grasp by next weekend) while the ones I’m advocating, The Salt of the Earth and The Wrecking Crew, are currently playing in only 18 and 65 theaters respectively, despite being in release considerably longer than the latest from Vin Diesel and company. Still, if you can find either of my recommendations they offer a fine investment, with the provisos that the former is focused on the photography of Brazilian master Sebastião Salgado, whose images are astounding in both content and form although many of them are distressing to see in that they document the ravages of war and famine on innocent people while the latter film is about a group of superb L.A. studio musicians responsible for the instrumental work on a huge number of Top 40 hits from the 1960s-early ‘70s but if those types of tunes don’t move you or if you want to hear full tracks instead of snippets (as the focus is mostly on interviews rather than the performances of vocalists from Frank Sinatra to the Beach Boys to the Monkees and The Fifth Dimension) then maybe a CD anthology of this music (or the Sixties on 6 Sirius satellite radio channel) would satisfy you more, although there’s a soundtrack album in the works which will be amazing if it offers full versions of the 110 songs that are sampled throughout The Wrecking Crew.
Regarding The Salt of the Earth, the film is co-directed by famous German New Waver Wim Wenders and Sebastião’s son, Juliano Ribeiro Salgado, giving us a grand overview of the great South American shooter’s work and sincere concern for the people he was giving a pictorial “voice” to in the midst of their misery, while The Wrecking Crew is also directed by its subject’s son, Denny Tadesco, to give long-overdue honor to his guitarist father, Tommy, and the many other talented session players whose names rarely appear on the credits for the hits they helped so many various vocalists achieve (although two notable members of this group, Glen Campbell and Leon Russell, did move on to solid careers of their own). Finding either of these offerings may prove to be as obscure as their contents might seem to be compared to the usual dominating box-office fare, but either or both are marvelous explorations into both the arts and the full spectrum of human nature. Further details on both are available in my latest reviews.
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