Cinema Review: Contemporary Color | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Monday, March 30th, 2020  

Contemporary Color

Studio: Oscilloscope
Directed by Bill Ross IV and Turner Ross

Mar 01, 2017 Web Exclusive
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If you wouldn’t attend a live performance that pairs several color guard teams from around the country with famous musicians, Contemporary Color is not for you. That being said, this concert film documenting exactly such a performance is musician David Byrne’s attempt to bring Color Guard to a larger audience. Why? His reasoning remains unclear (even he struggled to answer when asked outright early on).

The color guard teams’ performances are incredible, and I’m sure were even more remarkable to those attending the live show at the Barclay’s Center in 2015. Translated to the screen, much of the choreography is lost in order to maintain dynamic storytelling. However there is no sense of drama, no narrative arc. After the first couple of performance (one inexplicably featuring Ira Glass of “This American Life”), you know what you are in for. It never changes, never grows.

The musicians range from Nelly Furtado to Blood Orange to opera composter Nico Muhly. With such an eclectic group of musicians and performers, in addition to begging the question “Why?” one can’t help but wonder, “Who is this for?” While not wholly unenjoyable, the film lacks the necessary urgency and purpose required to hold anyone’s attention for more than an hour. Even the most avid David Byrne fans will be left checking their watches.

Author rating: 5/10

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