Hammerle on … “Werewolves Within” and “Summer of Soul”

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Hammerle on...Werewolves Within

Please don’t run away from this film because you dislike horror movies. More to the point, it feels like you are watching a group of confined Trump and Biden supporters whose animosity can’t be controlled even as a few ofthem are consumed.

Imagine a small Western town where the residents are faced with a proposed pipeline that will destroy a section of a local forest. As the argument becomes both heated and hateful and divides the townsfolk, the owner (a memorable Catherine Curtin) of a local inn’s missing husband is found dead and half eaten.

The group is forced to stay in the inn to try and figure out what in the hell is going on. A newly arrived forest ranger (Sam Richardson) and a postal worker (Milana Vayntrub) join forces to try and keep the peace but don’t expect the Trump people to believe the election was fair. Know what I mean?

In the process, the dialogue is both profane and very funny. In particular, a male gay couple is widely amusing as they face a conservative community now threatened by a werewolf lurking in the shadows.

The title of the film points you in the right direction concerning the identity of the creature treating the inn dwellers as appetizers. In the process, this movie resembles watching an off-Broadway play that leaves you walking out thinking, “This play deserves more attention.”

So go see it. You cynics will likely mumble, “Who in the hell would think that I would like a werewolf movie?”

Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)

“Summer of Soul” is a documentary of the Harlem Cultural Festival that took place over six weeks in the summer of 1969. Taking place the same year as Woodstock, the latter became legendary while this film was dumped in a basement and forgotten.

Rescued by director Ahmir Khalib Thompson, known as Questlove, it shines a light on life in the U.S. that year. Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy had been gunned down the year before. The Vietnam War, where thousands of Black soldiers were dying, led to riots in the street.

This festival allowed Black citizens of Harlem a chance to experience some cultural identity along with the theater audience. They had the pleasure of listening to talented Black singers like Stevie Wonder, Sly and the Family Stone, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Mahalia Jackson, B.B. King and The 5th Dimension, among others. This was the clear highlight of the film.

The problem with the movie centered on its length of nearly two hours. Despite the joy of listening to the above singers, there was an unnecessarily tedious period when you were forced to listen to gospel singers that even the Harlem crowd seemed to ignore. You also had to endure Jesse Jackson playing a role at the concert, still riding on the coattails of the late Dr. King.

However, pay attention to the ending. The performance of Nina Simone captured the Harlem crowd as no other singer succeeded in doing. Her singing “Backlash Blues” helps to evaluate this historically meaningful film from the grave.

Let me close with urging all of you to watch the eight-part documentary on Apple TV+ entitled, “1971: The Year That Music Changed Everything.” Both this film and “Summer” allow you to remember the time music played a significant role in our lives.•

Robert Hammerle practices criminal law in Indianapolis. When he is not in the courtroom or the office, Bob can likely be found at one of his favorite movie theaters preparing to review the latest films. To read more of his reviews, visit www.bigmouthbobs.com. Opinions expressed are those of the author.

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