Restored prints of Fritz Lang's Metropolis are cool and all, but what really thrills me about FilmBar, downtown Phoenix's brand-new boutique movie house/drinkery, is the programming coup like the one Steve Weiss and gang pulled off for Tuesday night. That's when FilmBar will screen The Secret to a Happy Ending, the new documentary about acclaimed Southern-rock act Drive-By Truckers.
The film, directed by Barr Weissman, covers a tumultuous three-year span of recording and touring by the now-venerated Georgia band, which has been known during its 15-year career for exploring "the duality of the South," and is set against a backdrop of bleak economic conditions below the Mason-Dixon line.
A vital repertory house isn't afraid to make risky programming choices by looking for material beyond the highbrow stuff -- like obligatory restored classics and foreign films -- and appealing to a less-refined animal: the rock fan.
Already, I like the approach to rock 'n' roll that FilmBar is taking in its nascent period. Before Tuesday's screening of The Secret to a Happy Ending, FilmBar will screen this weekend a recut version of Straight to Hell, Alex Cox's 1986 follow-up to Repo Man starring Joe Strummer. And next weekend, FilmBar will screen Todd P Goes to Austin, a doc about indie bands such as Matt and Kim, Dan Deacon, and Mika Miko, slogging it out on a strictly DIY budget.
Keep 'em coming, Mr. Weiss. How great would it be to see the next I Am Trying to Break Your Heart or Dig! or End of the Century in a venue such as this? (A personal request: the heretofore bootleg-only MC5: A True Testimonial.)
It's a happy coincidence that Drive-By Trucker's ninth album, Go-Go Boots, will be released on Tuesday. The timing of the release makes the FilmBar event seem that much more special. And FilmBar is playing it up for all its worth, giving away tickets to a DBT show in Vegas in March as well as autographed copies of the film's promotional poster.
There will be two screenings of The Secret of a Happy Ending, at 7 and 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $10, which doesn't include booze, unfortunately. Visit www.thefilmbarphx.com for more information.