Wednesday, October 21, 2009

CMJ Fest: A Few Films and a Ton of Music

Saul Williams plays the Blender Theater tonight during the 2009 CMJ Music Marathon & Film Festival. Photo by Evan Cohen.

WILL Saul Williams stir things up tonight at the Blender Theater using a dash of electro hip hop with undertones of David Bowie? Who will win the all-metal battle of the bands tribute Saturday night at Le Poisson Rouge? In this corner is Tragedy giving props to the Bee Gees. Their opponent is the also aptly named Dangerous, paying respects to the King of Pop. Sounds like one of those see-it-to-believe-affairs.

And you will if you channel your body and energy into the 2009 CMJ Music Marathon & Film Fesitival, where through Saturday (24 Oct.), fans can have their fill of panels, showcases, more than 1,200 bands and a few films, too, in venues around Lower Manhattan and God’s country, Brooklyn.

Catch George Clooney, Ewan McGregor and Kevin Spacey tonight in “The Men Who Stare at Goats” about the convergence of a reporter, a special forces agent and a secret, psychic military unit. There’s a Q&A after. Stick around for “I Am A Man: From Memphis, A Lesson In Life,” a documentary about the Memphis Sanitation Workers Strike in 1968. Some surviving members talk about the way it was. Closing out the film festival on Friday (23 Oct.) is “The Messenger” starring Woody Harrelson as an Army officer straight out of Iraq with lots of bad news to bear. Also closing the film component is Milla Jovovich in the fact-based thriller, “The Fourth Kind,” set in Alaska where people have gone missing under dubious circumstances.

The folks at CMJ claim that their music festival is the oldest music event in the country (film was added much later), and perhaps it is. For sure it is a five-day showcase for rising talent. And while it ain’t free, it’s cheap. Has a good pedigree, too. U2 played it long before Bono could get heads of state on the phone and before he could shame rich Western nations for their usury toward their poorer neighbors.

Saul Williams' show at the Blender Theater (127 E 23rd St./Gramercy) starts at 9 pm. Tickets: $22. “The Men Who Stare at Goats” starts at 7 p.m. “I Am A Man: From Memphis, A Lesson In Life” starts at 9:30 p.m. Both are showing at the Clearview Cinemas, 260 W. 23rd St./Chelsea.

Visit for the complete 2009 CMJ Music Marathon & Film Festival schedule, including: venues, times, admission and so forth.

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