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Five Sides of a coin

Not quite definitive, "Five Sides of a Coin" is nevertheless a thorough overview of hip-hop's origins and influences. Nifty, well-executed docu emphasizes music's creative, bohemian side, skipping more commercial excesses. As such, pic has great appeal on alternative circuits, and should get good spin at music-minded fests

With:
With: D.J. Spooky, Michael Franti, Jeru, John Lurie, KRS-One, Biz Markie, Cowboy, Q-Bert.

Not quite definitive, “Five Sides of a Coin” is nevertheless a thorough overview of hip-hop’s origins and influences. Nifty, well-executed docu emphasizes music’s creative, bohemian side, skipping more commercial excesses that have come in the era of 50 Cent and other materialistic rappers. As such, pic has great appeal on alternative circuits, and should get good spin at music-minded fests. Main market, though, figures to be in sell-through DVD.

Helmer and chief lenser Paul Kell spent years researching turntable-based movement’s West Bronx block party roots, as well as traveling Europe, Asia and the States to capture its fallout. Great looking pic is divided into chapters detailing major touchstones, like Gil Scott-Heron and other spoken word mavens, and innovators like Cowboy, Grandmaster Flash and Afrika Bambaataa. Along the way, sidestreams like break-dancing, emceeing, beat-boxing (with rhythms-based human voices) and graffiti tagging (or “aerosol culture”) are examined, as are elements of gender and race. Non-narrated effort is told playfully by articulate participants (like Jeru and DJ Spooky) and supported by a smattering of archival material, all held together with appropriately colorful visual effects.

Five Sides of a coin

Canada

Production: A 7th Art Releasing presentation of Canada Council for the Arts/National Film Board of Canada production, with assistance from the Universal Zulu Nation, Spectrum Entertainment, CBC Radio 3. Produced by Paul Kell, Jana Ritter. Executive producers, James Eowan, Matt Henderson. Co-producers, Sean Lalla, Jazzy Jay, Joe Sciorra, Bastian Asdank. Directed, written, edited by Paul Kell.

Crew: Camera (color, BetaSP), Kell, Sean Lolla, Robert Koster, Adam MacKay-Smith; music, Manifest, others; sound (Dolby), Brendan Ostrander, Kell. Reviewed on DVD at Victoria Film Festival, Feb. 8, 2004. Running time: 70 MIN.

With: With: D.J. Spooky, Michael Franti, Jeru, John Lurie, KRS-One, Biz Markie, Cowboy, Q-Bert.

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