By Adam Ray Palmer
As my Venezia75 trip is coming to end, it’s only fair that I catch a documentary film before I hail a speedboat home.
The chosen non-fiction movie is Carmine Street Guitars, written by Len Blum and directed by Ron Mann.
Carmine Street Guitars follows an instrument store and workshop, of the same name, over five days as people come and go in Greenwich Village. It documents people’s stories, the love of New York and how music is like a healing mechanism. This film is deeper than the title suggests, but just scratches the surface, sadly.
The film is depicted over a working week, like five acts. Every week day, different guitar artists visit the store to buy/play a guitar and share experiences on how music has affected them. Some artists include Charlie Sexton, Jim Jarmusch, The Sadies and Jamie Hince (The Kills); who tells the story how music helped him through a difficult injury.
Most guests in the documentary share the same love of New York that Ricky Kelly (store owner) does too, as they discuss the vibrant city and how the old buildings with glorious wood can live on in the form of Rick’s repurposed guitars.
The other side of the film displays the personalities behind the store. We have Rick Kelly who owns and runs the shop, Cindy Hulej who is his apprentice and then Rick’s mother, who cleans the guitars and answers the phone all day. When the scenes occur following this trio, it’s a bit awkward and seems forced. You can tell that they aren’t naturals in front of the camera which makes the documentary feel a little at arm’s length so to speak. It feels as though they don’t want to let you in too much, and to just focus on the celebrities that come and go.
This film does have interesting foundations but doesn’t delve deep enough. With a runtime of 80 minutes, I hoped it would get into perhaps more complex issues with the ever-changing New York, how the online world is developing and how it could affect the store and perhaps a more step-by-step process of making a guitar. It’s all very glossy, and I wanted a grittier musical tale.
Cineroom’s Rating: 2.5 stars
Carmine Street Guitars currently doesn’t have a release date for the UK – certificate TBC