JWR Articles: Film/DVD - Herb Alpert Is… | The Devil to Pay | Fugue | Call Me Brother (Directors: John Scheinfeld, Lane Skye, Rukus Skye, Tomas Street, David Howe) - November 10, 2020

Herb Alpert Is… | The Devil to Pay | Fugue | Call Me Brother

4 4

Two hits and a couple of also-rans

Herb Alpert Is...
97 minutes
John Scheinfeld
Four stars

“It just makes you feel happy”

OK, so let’s just answer the movie’s title:

Herb Alpert is one of the best trumpeters, entertainers and purveyors of talent ever.

Born in 1935 and still going strong, Alpert’s mantra, “It’s the feel” is as valid today as it was when he penned “The Lonely Bull.”

Seeing the vibrant musician on stage at the height of his fame (with the Tijuana Brass in the ‘60s—and covering many of his tuneful hits with my own band—The Muskrat Ramblers for many years), he seems then, as now, more like a colleague than a competitor for the hearts, minds and ears of all of those who love good music, played well.

This doc is highly recommended for aficionados and newcomers alike. Like myself, lots of his fans will be somewhat surprised—right from the opening frames—that the talented troubadour is also an accomplished painter and sculptor. Not for these eyes, it’s the golden horn that shines far brighter than his “static” achievements.

Scheinfeld tries to reveal the artist’s inner angst (“I’m famous, rich, but I’m miserable”), but it will fall to others far beyond the toe-tapping music to lay the heart bare of the co-founder of A&M Records.

No worries: settle down for a couple of hours of music past and present, delivered by one whose chops haven’t deserted him with age. JWR

The Devil to Pay
87 minutes
Lane Skye, Rukus Skye
Four stars

“You do the work, you reap the rewards”

Set in the glorious Appalachians (effectively used as cutaways between scenes; the banjo-infused score also reinforces the setting), this film is a marvellous allegory/cautionary tale for racism in America (and the rest of the world) either “then” or now.

Danielle Deadwyler gives a superb performance as Lemon Cassidy. Abandoned (yet again) by her husband, she is left on her own in the mountains to (a) take care of their precocious son (the camera-loving Ezra Haslam), even as the white supremacists in the neighbourhood (led by baking matriarch Tommy Runion—Catherine Dyer: no thinking person will regret her floury fate) seek vengeance for a purloined stopwatch.

Fearing for her only child, what would any mother do? Especially when hard evidence—so like Trump’s ridiculous fraud allegations—have no basis in fact.

Aided and curiously abetted by a nearby “vitriol loving” cult, Lemon finds her own way to justice, even as the full moon brilliantly buries her adversaries.

Not for the faint of heart, thoughtful viewers will revel in the lessons possibly learned as the world comes to grips with [fill in your blank] Lives Matter. JWR

92 minutes
Tomas Street
Two and one half stars

They deserve each other

Somewhat akin to Christopher Nolan’s imaginative non-linear, memory-puzzled storytelling in Memento (cross-reference below), writer-director Street’s beautifully shot thriller just goes steadily down from a promising start after the opening sequence.

Apparent amnesiac victim, Malcolm (stoically done up by Jack Foley), is nursed back to memory by a shapely woman (Laura Tremblay) who has to remind her confused hubby that she is his wife—even after in-front-of-the-window sex proves nothing but carnal intent.

The contents of the hidden-away safe add some mystery but its solution remains for another day. As does the possible need for a second viewing.

Too bad some relevance to musical definition of “fugue” wasn’t in evidence.

The ending seems more like justice done than a satisfying narrative conclusion. JWR

Call Me Brother
105 minutes
David Howe
One and one half stars


The day after President-Elect Biden made one of the finest conciliatory speeches in history, it seemed like a good time to relieve some of the angst, disappointment and disgust of the worst presidency ever and take in a comedy.

Family squabbles are certainty fodder for all manner of films; but the burgeoning incestuous relationship between Tony (Andrew Dismukes) and full-blood sister Lisa (Christina Parrish who also wrote the script) had as many laughs as Trump’s concession speech.

How curious to hear yet another version of Camille Saint-Saëns’ The Swan in the early going (a far superior version recently reviewed in these pages: cross-reference below), but that proved to be the artistic highlight before a litany of late-night masturbation (assumed, not seen), poops in the bathtub, shallow threesomes and flashbacks that had no payoff sullied the entire affair.

In better hands, the narrative could have become a sumptuous peach rather than spoiled fruit not worth picking. JWR

Your comments are always welcome at JWR.

Click here to have your say (please mention the headline for the article):Feedback to JWR.

Cross-reference(s): Please click on the image link(s) below
for related work:

Copyright © 2001-2020 JWR (James Wegg Review) Inc.
The content of this page is the sole responsibility of JWR and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of its advertisers and sponsors. All images are in the public domain or used with permission. Please contact the Managing Editor (jamesweggreview@bellnet.ca) with any concerns.
Where will you travel today?