I love me some docs

Ever since I first heard about the documentary Dark Days, way back in college, I had wanted to watch it–but it was hard to find, and so I eventually forgot about it.  Then for some reason the other day it popped back into my head, and I typed it into google video… and lo and behold, the whole film is there to watch!

If you’re not familiar with it, the film is a documentary released in 2000 which follows the lives of a group of homeless people living in an abandoned area of the New York City underground railway tunnels.  I’m so glad I was finally able to see it, albeit in the glorioulsy hi-def google video format.  At some point I’ll buy it when I lift my temporary financially-induced moratorium on purchasing new music and movies.  Anyways, the film is amazing.  It’s got an introduction reminiscent of another of my favorite documentaries, Style Wars, as a rickety NYC underground train shines it’s lonely headlight through a dark tunnel, leading the viewer into the depths of a world that is both surreal and ultra-gritty-real (and DJ Shadow’s soundtrack provides the perfect accompaniment).  From start to finish, it’s totally captivating, and the intimate portraits of these people’s lives, struggles, and personalities are unforgettable.  The backstory of how this project came about is also really fascinating–according to the wikipedia article, the filmaker, Marc Singer, became friends and lived with these people for a number of months before he decided to try to make the doc in order to help them financially.  And his crew consisted of the homeless subjects themselves, who learned how to operate the cameras and build their own makeshift equipment.  That’s on some Spencer Nakasako tip!  Can you tell I like documentaries?

Speaking of documentaries, these days I’ve been busy working on music for my man Tad Nakamura‘s upcoming film, a documentary on the life of artist & activist Chris Iijima.  It’s a really interesting and challenging project for me, because he’s having me re-create instrumental versions of songs from the 1973 folk album “A Grain of Sand” (the group consisting of Chris Iijima, Nobuko Miyamoto, and Charlie Chin).  I remember back in Asian American Studies class learning that this was considered the first ever album of distinctly “Asian American music.”  So it’s kind of weird now actually picking apart these songs and replaying each note.  It’s a job that definitley plays to the OCD side of me.

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Published in: on October 21, 2008 at 3:16 am  Leave a Comment  

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