Jimmy Cliff as Ivanhoe Martin in The Harder They Come
It's a gloomy week in February, but there's lots to see on the big screen in Memphis.
Tonight the International Jewish Film Festival continues with Crescendo, a German-Israeli production about a conductor (Peter Simonischek) tasked with creating an orchestra of Israeli and Palanstinian players for a peace concert. The film starts at 7 p.m. tonight at Malco Ridgeway.
On Wednesday, Feb. 12, Indie Memphis is bringing the one-night-only national screening of After Parkland to Malco Powerhouse. The documentary was made by ABC producers Emily Taguchi and Jake Lefferman, who rushed to Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in the wake of the 2018 mass shooting that killed 17 students. Their cameras watched as student survivors David Hogg and others launched a national movement gun control movement. Wednesday's coordinated national screenings mark a day of action to commemorate the second anniversary of the massacre. Tickets are available at the Indie Memphis website.
On Thursday, Feb. 14, Crosstown Arthouse presents one of the greatest music films of all time at the Crosstown Theater. Jamaica in 1971 was a pressure cooker of sound, with reggae, ska, and rock steady tracks pouring out of a hardscrabble independent studio scene that would look familiar to Memphians.
All that musical genius came to a head with The Harder They Come, which introduced the world to reggae and made Jimmy Cliff the music's first international breakout star. This is a low-budget indie film before such a thing had a name.
Since director Perry Henzell and company couldn't afford sets, they took the streets and shot guerilla style. The resulting inadvertent documentary footage of Jamaica is worth the price of admission alone. The plot is also ahead of its time—think Boyz n The Hood with a patois. The incredible soundtrack includes Cliff's titular mega-hit and Toots and the Maytal's immortal "Pressure Drop". The show starts at 7:30 p.m., $5 at the door.
Did you wake up feeling strange on Monday? That's because the night before, the best film of 2019 (which was, by the way, a great year for quality films) actually won Best Picture at the Academy Awards! On Friday, Feb. 14, celebrate Valentine's Day by taking your boo to Bong Joon-Ho's brutal satire of late-stage capitalism, Parasite. This one is a must-see.