Memphis | Film | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper


A languid and evocative meditation on music, creativity, Memphis, religion and more

Tim Sutton's portrait of a free-floating, iconoclastic Memphis blues singer-songwriter (Willis Earl Beal) is pretty free-floating itself. Employing a languid cinema-vérité style, the narrative often feels like a dream-like documentary, as Beal mopes around rundown parts of present-day Memphis, searching for inspiration. Other unidentified people come and go — a girlfriend, some fellow musicians, a young boy — but connections rarely form. Musical interludes are started but don't finish; church is debated, but there's no commitment; car trips are taken, but the destinations all seem like dead ends. Sutton's film is for those who don't mind an evocative but very minimal exploration of the stalled creative process, as it intersects here with Memphis' musical roots, religion, the African-American community and a life lived just above poverty.

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