Not Coming to a Theater Near You

One of our favorite titles at SIFF was Spike Lee's concert film of Passing Strange, the Tony Award-winning show based on the life of musician/narrator Stew. The movie is playing New York and L.A. but not, unfortunately, Seattle. So the next best thing, if you've got cable and the Sundance Channel, is to order it via VOD (video on demand) beginning this Wednesday the 26. Here's our review from SIFF:

I was hoping that the Tony Award-winning rock opera Passing Strange would eventually reach Seattle, but Spike Lee's exhilarating concert doc is the next best thing. This coming-of-age-while-black musical by Mark Stewart (aka Stew) has been a long time brewing. It progressed from the Bay Area to Off-Broadway with much acclaim, and finally hit Broadway last year. If you loved Hedwig and the Angry Inch at SIFF '01, Passing Strange packs at least as much power, but with a much tighter band and more concentrated story.

Unlike John Cameron Mitchell playing a transsexual East German character in Hedwig, Stew is relating a (slightly embellished) version of his own life story, one also rooted in the '80s, which proceeds from California to Europe and back. And the songs, co-written with Heidi Rodewald, are even better. Surgery is only one path to self-discovery. Music is another. Shooting during the show's final performances on Broadway, Lee sometimes pushes his camera too close , particularly after the intermission, but the high-def images are crisp and the sound quality excellent. Besides Stew's band, his ensemble of performers--most in multiple roles on a bare stage--are in equal command of the stage-tested material.

You can also read a longer review from our colleagues Scott Foundas.

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