Combustible Celluloid
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With: Danny Fields, Iggy Pop, Alice Cooper, John Cameron Mitchell, Tommy Ramone, Jonathan Richman
Written by: Brendan Toller
Directed by: Brendan Toller
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 104
Date: 09/30/2016

Danny Says (2016)

3 Stars (out of 4)

All Yesterday's Parties

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Danny Says charts an incredible bit of musical history, as seen by Danny Fields: from The Velvet Underground (and Andy Warhol and Nico) and The Doors in the late 1960s to the Ramones in the mid-1970s, with lots of great stuff in-between. We hear stories about Jim Morrison getting very high and naked (for the curious, Danny comments on the size of Morrison's junk), and stories of how Danny managed to get two outrageous Detroit bands, the MC5 and the Stooges, signed to a major label at one time. I loved hearing a recording of an enthusiastic Lou Reed talking about hearing the Ramones for the first time, and about how the Ramones agreed to let the Talking Heads open for them because they were "no good." Danny's interviews are more coherent in archival footage than in the new footage, but he still manages to mention how he was grudgingly involved with the Edgar Winter Group and proudly not involved with Aerosmith. Danny was there for all of it, though it's sometimes unclear just what he was doing. Sometimes he appears to have just been a hanger-on or a minor record-company liaison, but other times he's a decisive manager, or even a rock journalist. In any case, he's something of a peripheral figure, like a punk rock Forrest Gump; it's too bad that Danny Says couldn't have been clearer or more playful with this storyline. In the end, director Brendan Toller seems to be saying that Danny was not a sell-out, and that's awesome, but a little more would have been great. Danny Says opens September 30, 2016 at the Roxie Cinema in San Francisco.

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