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The eighth annual Woodstock Film Festival kicks off this Thursday, and it looks like being a good one. In the past, although some movies have been shown up in Hunter, we’ve not been close enough to the main action or had enough time to partake to any great extent. This year, living that much closer to most of the Woodstock-based venues, I’ve paid more attention, and have noticed what seems like a high quality of movie, several of which I hope to attend.

Not surprisingly, several movies play up to Woodstock’s past, what some might accurately call its anachronism. Hopefully, the “unconventional” new Bob Dylan biopic of sorts, I’m Not There, directed by Todd Haynes of Velvet Goldmine infamy, is not among them. After all, among the seven actors and actresses to play different Dylans are Chistian Bale, Richard Gere, Heath Ledger, and two women – Cate Blanchett and Julianne Moore. Not surprisingly, both screenings have been long sold out.

Also sold out is the North American Premiere of Hippie Marsala, about the “millions of Flower Children who flocked to India in the 1960s and 1970s.” Presumably, enough of them came home to Woodstock to in the 80s and 90s to snap up the tickets for the movie of their lives. As for Super High Me, what can I say except that imitation is sometimes a form of flattery, and sometimes just impersonation? Think up your own original idea next time, please.

For my part, I’m hoping to get to the World Premiere of Chasin’ Gus’ Ghost, “a personal exploration of the roots and growth of Jug Band Music in the United States.” If you’re not sure what comprises a Jug Band, think of the Bruce Springsteen live group that recorded and toured the Seeger Sessions, then allow yourself to follow back and forth through the Memphis Jug Band, the Dixieland Jug Blowers, Jim Kweskin’s Jug Band and the Even Dozen Jug Band, the latter of which featured Woodstock resident and former Lovin’ Spoonful front man John Sebastian. Or just watch this trailer:

Chasin’ Gus’ Ghosts clashes, though, with a screening of Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten, Julien Temple’s documentary that seems to have evaded general release and is instead touring the festival circuit before its inevitable graduation to DVD. I know I’ll get to see the film sometime soon; hopefully it will be this weekend. In the meantime, here’s the trailer:

The two movies I know I’m going to see because I’ve bought tickets for them already, are both this Thursday: Neal Cassady, the inspiration for On The Road’s Dean Moriarity, is not a documentary but a biopic, which reportedly focuses on Cassady’s later attempts to escape his alter ego. It’s a World Premiere and I like the look of it.

Ditto Let Them Chirp Awhile, yet another film receiving its World Premiere. “A comedy about two over-educated, Midwestern transplants struggling to make it as artists in New York City’s East Village” (in which their mutual friend gets ahead of them by cashing on on 9/11), I can well imagine it showing up at downtown cinemas like the Angelika or the Sunshine some time soon. I used to enjoy going to this type of hip movie back in my Manhattan days; hopefully I’ll enjoy just as much in the home village of the hippies.

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