The Best Old Movies on a Big Screen This Week: NYC Repertory Cinema Picks, July 20-26

cocksucker blues-robert frank Cocksucker Blues (1972)
Directed by Robert Frank and Danny Seymour
This seldom-screened documentary, whose title comes from an unreleased LP by The Rolling Stones, follows the band members during their 1972 North American tour, a short time after the release of the album Exile on Main St and three years after the sad events at Altamont. The black-and-white film was made in vérité fashion by the Swiss-born photographer and filmmaker Frank and his assistant Seymour, and it captured the vulgar offstage realities of Jagger, Richards & Co. with such verve that they sought legal measures to limit its screenings. Laura Israel, Robert Frank’s longtime editor and the director of the new documentary Don’t Blink – Robert Frank, writes by e-mail that, “Being on tour with the Stones was like being in a spaceship, according to Robert. Everything seemed unreal, and I think that you experience this sensation of non-reality in the film. The most boring, mundane details of the musicians’ life on the road become fascinating, somehow. (One of my favorite scenes is Mick Jagger on the phone ordering fresh fruit from the hotel front desk.) Robert’s dark, sarcastic sense of humor is brilliantly revealed in the sequencing of shots and in the juxtaposition of sound and image. Just as his groundbreaking book The Americans is a lonely, honest look at America, Cocksucker Blues is a raw, unfiltered X-ray view of The Stones.” Aaron Cutler (July 20, 21 at Film Forum in conjunction with Don’t Blink)

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