Monday, June 13, 2022

Count Me In and Motian in Motion: A tale of Two Movies

 I recently saw the two films mentioned in the title of this post. To be sure they are very different films and have contradicting aims to some extent, but they both left impressions on me and I would to discuss their contrasts in depth.

Count Me In is very much a celebration of drums and drumming, and in that sense, it's great to see these hard working people in the back of the bandstand getting their due. Many well known drummers such as Cindy Blackman, Chad Smith, Stewart Copeland, and Taylor Hawkins (RIP) are interviewed and provide insight into a drummer's role in a band. I believe this is something the general public doesn't know a lot about, so this is certainly welcome.

The film isn't without its problems though. Although I realize it's a feature on Rock drumming and mainly British players, you can't really tell much of the story of the drum set without mentioning not only some of the great African-American pioneers of the instrument (which they do in passing) but also all the great BLUES drummers as well. Without these people, there's no drum set! As well, although they do feature some lesser known and up and coming female drummers (such as the super-positive online force that is Emily Dolan Davies), the filmakers seem to find it necessary to emphasize how these young women can "hit as hard as the men" etc. etc. and further perpetuate the idea that drumming is a one dynamic event. I would hate for a young female drummer to think that playing at a low dynamic range ( as many gigs require) is somehow not proving oneself or being too "girly". This is not a new problem, but this film tends to continue to play into these one dimensional stereotypes of drummers, be they male, female, or trans……

Motian in Motion, by contrast, is very much a portrait of a great Jazz artist. There is great access to Mr. Motian not only performing and hanging out with his fellow musicians, but also interacting with club owners, doormen, etc. It really is an amazing and rare glimpse into a creative soul who completely followed his own path, and was brave enough to do so. It is interesting to note, however, that even though Motian worked with such female artists as Jane Ira Bloom, Carla Bley, and Geri Allen, to name a few, he doesn't seem to have any women in bands he led. (If I'm incorrect about this, please let me know folks.) This may be just coincidence, but in this day and age, the omission certainly is noticeable and curious.

Regardless, both these films are very worth watching, and there is much to be learned from both.

Here is the trailer for "Count Me In", currently available on Netflix.

…And here is "Motian in Motion". Enjoy! 

No comments:

Post a Comment