4 Stars
Year Released: 2011
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 75 minutes
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In Points of Interest, directors Anthony Lopez and Jon Salimes introduce their viewers to a talented collective of American musicians.  Following Wisconsin’s Juniper Tar and Pennsylvania’s Strand of Oaks through a ten-day East Coast tour, the filmmakers make an interesting decision in choosing not to focus their attention on the bands.  There are plenty of shots of the road through tour van windows and footage of babbling brooks.  Add some indistinct, subdued dialogue and Points of Interest may be the first mumblecore rockumentary. 

Another rock doc, Ondi Timoner‘s Dig!, showcased the talents and rivalry between The Brian Jonestown Massacre and The Dandy Warhols—introducing a new audience to their music, personalities, and drama.  The film was tightly edited, filled with exciting performances and memorable antics (both on and off-stage) and had the potential to serve as an attractive publicity piece for both groups.  POI, on the other hand, really only showcases the music.  There are no straightforward interviews with either Juniper or Oaks.  No origin story.  No industry experts.  And while interviews with the band members would have been more than welcome, the quality of their music carries the film on its own. 

On a personal note, after the first fifteen minutes of countryside scenery and small venue performances, I thought I was in trouble.  Fifty-five minutes later, I was engrossed by what I was hearing.  What I was seeing didn’t become any less important but, instead, it became clear why Lopez and Salimes had shot and edited their film with this minimalist and unconventional style.  Somehow–and this is not a strategy that could work for every band–the visual elements of the film serve to showcase the music but it never comes off as a music video or, more importantly, a sales pitch.

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Posted on September 21, 2011 in Reviews by

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