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PREVIOUSLY PLAYED

A POEM IS A NAKED PERSON

12:302:404:507:159:20

Through Tuesday, July 14

FILMED AND EDITED BY LES BLANK

EXECUTIVE PRODUCED BY HARROD BLANK

PRODUCED BY DENNY CORDELL, LEON RUSSELL AND LES BLANK FILMS

This is classic Les Blank. The music of blues-rocker Leon Russell, as recorded in his home and studio in Northeast Oklahoma, is a crazy-quilt of Americana: gospel, traditional bluegrass, Cajun culture, Native American rituals, and Hank Williams heartbreak -- mixed together with Southern values and ‘60s counterculture. Russell’s swamp music, Southern blues filtered through rock ‘n’ roll, features barrelhouse piano à la Jerry Lee Lewis. Blank captures him from 1972-1974. The silvery, shoulder-length-haired Russell, sporting his signature black top hat, is sometimes joined by fellow musicians George Jones and Willie Nelson. It’s a time capsule that, amazingly, is only now being released and is not to be missed.

USA • 1974 / 2015 • 90 MINS. • JANUS FILMS

Reviews

“One of the great AWOL music docs. An intimate look at a Seventies star in action. It’s finally getting a theatrical run over 40 years after the fact; do not let this minor miracle pass you by.”
– David Fear, Rolling Stone

“Blank uses Russell’s music as a gateway into a striking and largely vanished world. Blank and his crew captured extraordinary concert footage – intimate, sweaty, incantatory music shaped for the moment at hand… The studio recording sequences have a different sense of intimacy, of polished professionals displaying casual, almost effortless expertise.  (The film) features some of the best country musicians alive at the time, including George Jones, accompanied by only his guitar, a cigarette, and a Budweiser as he casually tosses off a majestic version of Take Me. Blank has an uncanny ability to express music in visual terms.”
– Daniel Eagan, Film Comment online

“More of a free-floating portrait of the eccentric neo-Gospel Oklahoman frying pan that is Russell’s mini-universe…the simple accumulation of ecstatic sounds… (The film caused) a feeling of visceral waves moving across the audience throughout the screening, a collective engagement – not unlike, one might say, a ‘70s hippie experience – that would blossom occasionally into full-blown applause whenever Russell and his band wrapped up one of the many super-tight performances strewn throughout the film. An exuberantly full-of-life time capsule (with) joy coursing through even its most mundane passages.”
– Carson Lund, Slant

“The incomparable Leon Russell from the equally incomparable Les Blank. An intimate look not just at Russell but at the life he was surrounded by… More than a concert film, (it) feels like a time capsule. A glimpse of the people of that time that is visceral and raw. A movie about small-town America set to a Leon Russell soundtrack.”
– James Roberts, The Horn