The same generosity of spirit that informs his best work turns his docsinvariably about people he loves, from a Hurricane Katrina victim to Jimmy Carterinto mushy hagiographies. Enzo Avitabile Music Life, Demmes awkwardly titled portrait of the celebrated Italian saxophonist and singer-songwriter, features enough music to be worthwhile for fans and curious newcomers, but its a snooze whenever Avitabile doesnt have an instrument in his hand or a microphone in front of his face (as opposed to dangling over his headthis film revels in visible boom mics, for some reason). Its easy to see why Demme admires the man, but amiability doesnt make for a great documentary subject. If anything, it tends to be something of a drawback, offering only warm fuzzies. With his shock of curly hair and a cross dangling from one ear, Avitabile does at least have a memorable look, as well as a voluble personality. In the films most compelling non-performance scene, he excitedly shows off a software program that allows him to hear his classical compositions right away, without the need to round up an entire orchestraa technological marvel that would likely make Bach and Mozart weep. Too often, though, Demme just follows Avitabile around while he does things of marginal interest, like visit the conservatory where he learned music theory as a boy. (Even Paul McCartney pointing to the exact spot where he met John Lennon wouldnt be all that exciting, really. Unless he got all emotional about it, but nothing of the sort happens here.) We meet Avitabiles adult children and learn that they love their dad and think hes the absolute best, which, you know, is nice. Its less Behind The Music than just Vaguely Adjacent To The Music, demonstrating only that musicians can be as ho-hum as anyone else. Thankfully, thats only about half of Music Lifes brief running time. The other half consists of jam sessions featuring Avitabile and a host of fellow virtuosos from Cuba, Iran, Pakistan, Mauritania, and elsewhere. Its not made explicit whether these are longstanding associationsits possible (though unlikely) that Avitabile is meeting everyone for the first timebut their pleasure in playing together is sincere and infectious. And its no slight to Avitabile, who would surely concur, to note that hes frequently the least fascinating aspect of his own movie. Having previously worked with Neil Young, Robyn Hitchcock, and the Talking Heads, Demme deserves credit for bringing more obscure talents to an American audience.
and get a sense of what they’re listening to. Rdio will also recommend songs and artists for you to check out based on your friends’ interests. That may not seem like a big deal, but when you’re not quite sure what to listen to, this feature is one of the best in helping you figure it out. Another standout Rdio feature is the ability to build an online library full of “your” tracks. With rival services, having your favorite music in front of you means scrolling through hundreds of playlists in the sidebar of the app. It’s less than ideal. Rdio instead presents your collection as a highly visual array of album thumbnails that can be sorted in a variety of manners. But functionality aside, Rdio is just laid out and presented across all platforms (desktop, phone and Web) in manner that’s visually cleaner and easier to process than its competitors. You’re immediately welcomed by those friend-generated recommendations. Other details, such as being able to easily and intuitively cache an album or playlist to your phone for offline listening, also make a huge difference for average users. If you’re someone who needs the ability to integrate their locally stored music with their streaming library, or if you want the service that gets all the newer, slightly more obscure music first, Rdio might not be for you.