DVD Talk
Release List Reviews Shop Newsletter Forum DVD Giveaways Blu-Ray Advertise
Reviews & Columns
Reviews
DVD
TV on DVD
Blu-ray
Ultra HD
International DVDs
Theatrical
Video Games

Features
Collector Series DVDs
Easter Egg Database
Interviews
DVD Talk Radio
Feature Articles

Columns
Anime Talk
DVD Stalk
DVD Savant
High-Def Revolution
Silent DVD

discussion forum
DVD Talk Forum
Resources
DVD Price Search
Customer Service #'s
RCE Info
Links

DVDTalk Info
Review Staff
About DVD Talk
Advertise
Newsletter Subscribe
Join DVD Talk Forum
DVD Talk Feeds


Sponsored Links

Search: For:
Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Burn to Shine 3: Portland Or 06.15.05
Burn to Shine 3: Portland Or 06.15.05
Other // Unrated // August 22, 2006 // Region 0
List Price: $14.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Jamie S. Rich | posted August 12, 2006 | E-mail the Author
Buy from Amazon.com
C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Highly Recommended
E - M A I L
this review to a friend
P R I N T
Printer Friendly

THE MOVIE:

What a great concept.

Burn to Shine is a series of films designed to spotlight the local music scenes in towns across America. The film crew goes to the city, finds a house intended for demolition, and spends a day there shooting performances by the chosen artists. Each band gets an hour to set up, soundcheck, and record one song. No muss, no fuss. Then, when it's all said and done, they film the house being torn down. Or in the case of this edition, burned down. (They may all be burned, I haven't seen the previous two.)

The series is produced by Brendan Canty, who plays in Fugazi, which is probably why the first Burn to Shine was set in Washington D.C. The second was Chicago, and the third is my current base of operations: Portland, Oregon. For this installment, director Christoph Green turned to Chris Funk from the Decemberists to pick his eleven favorite bands from the city.

I was actually a little leary about reviewing the Portland Burn to Shine. I've never been that into the local music scene, its aesthetic has always been a little bit different than mine. I didn't want to be the guy who hated it. I need not have worried, though, because the approach is so quick and clean, there is no time to pause and think, just groove.

There are no stinkers on the roster. The Thermals are a strong choice to open. "Welcome to the Planet" is a great lead-in track by design. They also represent the brand of indie rock the region is known for, and that style shows up again with some of the other bands in the line-up, including Sleater-Kinney, The Planet The, Quasi, and the Shins. The Shins are a good example of how well the Burn to Shine concept works. They are a band I normally find boring, but in this context, they really get a chance to prove what they can do without the trappings of a studio weighing them down.

Elsewhere, Funk's selection of groups shows off Portland's diversity. Lifesavas are a hiphop band with two MCs and a DJ, while Mirah is a quartet comprised of vocals, violin, stand-up bass, and accordion. Wet Confetti do the tightly scripted mathrock thing, while the final act, the Gossip, go for the funk, stripped down to a bass player, drummer, and singer. The Decemberists nearly steal the show a la the Who in The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus, their lengthy sea ballad "The Mariner's Revenge Song" a little like Pete Townshend's "A Quick One" with its complex musicality and detailed narrative. The band gathers steam over the long tune, like an ocean storm growing in rage.

The brightest spot, however, is taken by the Ready, a quartet of teenage (preteen?) girls from the Rock 'n' Roll Camp for Girls, one of Portland's cooler institutions. Built on an '80s new wave keyboard riff, "For All You Know" kicks ass over all the other numbers here. The first word of the song is "smile," and I guess I took it as an order, because I was grinning ear to ear all the way through.

The whole film ends with the house being burnt down by the fire department, giving a fitting sense of closure to the incendiary musical occurrence that took place there. If you like rock music and think that it's lacking a certain passion in this digital age, then Burn to Shine will be a welcome reminder of what it's all supposed to be about. The simplicity of style transcends any marketing gimmicks, it's just about the bands and their songs--exactly the way it was always meant to be.

THE DVD

Video:
Burn to Shine is beautifully shot. It doesn't look like a down and dirty one-day production. The natural lighting around the house gives the program the pallor of the Pacific Northwest, making a summer day look like a gorgeous autumn evening. The widescreen 16:9 transfer is perfect.

Sound:
Much credit should be given to audio engineers Larry Crane and Jerry Busher, because there are a lot of different kinds of bands here. Whether it's a full sextet, a turntable, or simple guitar-bass-drums, they've recorded every performance with clarity and ferocity. I watched Burn to Shine with my volume cranked way up, and there was no distortion whatsoever. Given how crucial the sound is to an experiment of this kind, the audio could make or break the experience--and in this case, it definitely makes it.

Extras:
On the DVD itself, there is a slide show of stills from the shoot and a performance by singer Tom Heinl. The song from Heinl is a novelty Christmas tune sung in the style of Johnny Cash, and it was definitely the right choice to leave it out of the main program. His ironic mugging and the low-level humor of the lyrics would have marred the spotless record of the collection.

The interior sleeve of the DVD case lists the bands and the songs along with website urls for each artist, making it incredibly easy to find out more about a band you may have particularly liked.

FINAL THOUGHTS:
Burn to Shine comes Highly Recommended from me. This is a music documentary that is just about the music, about capturing the brilliance of a live performance with no outer trappings. All eleven groups bring their A-sides, and in response the filmmakers put it all on tape with high-grade professionalism. You're going to find few albums with this many winners, and whether you sit and watch it or put it in your player and let it run in the background to just listen to the music, you're going to get a lot of play out of Burn to Shine.

Jamie S. Rich is a novelist and comic book writer. He is best known for his collaborations with Joelle Jones, including the hardboiled crime comic book You Have Killed Me, the challenging romance 12 Reasons Why I Love Her, and the 2007 prose novel Have You Seen the Horizon Lately?, for which Jones did the cover. All three were published by Oni Press. His most recent projects include the futuristic romance A Boy and a Girl with Natalie Nourigat; Archer Coe and the Thousand Natural Shocks, a loopy crime tale drawn by Dan Christensen; and the horror miniseries Madame Frankenstein, a collaboration with Megan Levens. Follow Rich's blog at Confessions123.com.

Popular Reviews
1. Polyester
2. Aladdin (1992) (4K Ultra HD)
3. Godzilla: King of the Monsters
4. Mirage
5. When A Stranger Calls Back
6. Kind Hearts and Coronets
7. Men in Black: International
8. Reap the Wild Wind
9. Who Saw Her Die?
10. Dogtooth


Sponsored Links
DVD Blowouts
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
Alien [Blu-ray]
Buy: $19.99 $9.99
8.
9.
10.
Sponsored Links
Release List Reviews Shop Newsletter Forum DVD Giveaways Blu-Ray Advertise
Copyright 2019 DVDTalk.com All Rights Reserved. Legal Info, Privacy Policy, Terms of Use