Saturday, April 28, 2018

Tribeca ’18: Homeless—The Soundtrack (short)

Jenni Alpert studied with the great Kenny Burrell at UCLA’s Herb Alpert School of Music (presumably no relation). That is definitely impressive, but her most significant musical association might just be with her biological father. It was a long time coming. Removed from her birth parents at a distressingly young age, Alpert has recently reconnected with her troubled father. Music has been their common ground and lingua franca, as viewers directly witness in Irene Taylor Brodsky’s twenty-six-minute documentary short Homeless: The Soundtrack, which screens during the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival.

Alpert studied jazz, but it sounds like she largely performs in pop and pop-country bags these days (thereby demonstrating the flexibility of jazz-trained musicians). It is probably just as well, because those seem to be the idioms Don Logsdon is comfortable playing. When they jam together, everything makes sense. However, it is clear his problems have not all melted away with their reunion.

Some viewers might be a bit put off to see Alpert pick up Logsdon from his squat under a bridge and even more turned off by her insistence he wear a blindfold during the drive to her house. However, you should respect her for having the backbone and foresight to protect herself from potential substance abuse backsliding and who knows what else. Thanks to her, he is clean and in treatment for various ailments, but you cannot be too careful with anyone coming out of a junkie’s existence.

Still, this is a good news story. Obviously, their reunion has made life richer and happier for both father and daughter, but Brodsky also makes it clear plenty of challenges remain. In terms of filmmaking, Homeless: The Soundtrack is stylistically pretty straight forward, but its honesty is impressive. The film never over-simplifies the messiness of the world, but it offers up some welcome cause for optimism. Recommended for general audiences, Homeless: The Soundtrack screens again this afternoon (4/28) as part of the Home Sweet Home documentary shorts block, at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival.