Review: THE ICARUS LINE MUST DIE

“The Icarus Line Must Die” Begins a Theatrical Release June 22nd

 

By Liz Lopez

Rating: B-

Michael Grodner makes his directorial feature film debut with the semi-biopic “The Icarus Line Must Die” based on the LA-based punk rock band, The Icarus Line fronted by Joe Cardamone. Aside from the musical fame the band had since its formation in 1998, they are notorious for performing at the Hard Rock Cafe in Austin, Texas, during the 2002 SXSW Music Festival. Guitarist Aaron North broke the protective case of the guitar that belonged to Stevie Ray Vaughan and that certainly did not set well with many in attendance and those who heard about this! Grodner is credited with writing for a few TV series and also producing several others for a period of ten years. The filmmaker also wrote the dramatic narrative script with the bandleader/vocalist set against the backdrop of the current LA underground music scene, but can apply to other large cities that have a wealth of musicians (as does Austin, TX) who will be able to identify with the same challenges and issues within the music industry.  

Although written as a drama, “The Icarus Line Must Die” is more like a documentary with the factual details of Cardamone’s career very apparent and a cast of non-acting musicians including Pearl Charles, Ben Hallett, Justin Pearson, Ariel Pink, Keith Morris, Jerry Stahl, as well as The Icarus Line (with no scene of the Hard Rock Café show though). It is not the strongest drama written about musicians or a band, but the black-and-white photography by cinematographer Jacob Mendel certainly conveys the mood of this attempt to fictionalize Cardamone’s life and the subplot about a text message stalker. As co-writer, Cardamone includes his time with The Icarus Line that ended in 2015, and the drama about the difficulties of working musicians trying to continue their craft in Los Angeles well after the popularity. The limited source of other income in the household leaves him with financial instability, as his recent album isn’t moving, nor is he receiving pay from the musicians for their session time in the personal recording studio he built. Despite not being a strong script, it is hard not to sympathize with the character knowing the reality of what happens to musicians who make their city vibrant, yet have many hardships and lack of wealth as the city develops way beyond their means. This applies across the board of music genres in Austin, Texas for sure, emerging or established as the artist may be.

Undoubtedly, there is plenty of music on screen from many artists, including Ariel Pink, Keith Morris (Black Flag/Circle Jerks), Pearl Charles, Melissa Brooks (The Aquadolls), Justin Pearson (RETOX, The Locust), Rafael Reyes (Prayers) and Jerry Stahl (Permanent Midnight) are featured along with performances by Pink Mountaintops, Together Pangea, The Icarus Line, Retox, Obliterations and Annie Hardy of Giant Drag. Fans of any of these musicians will certainly enjoy this film despite the strength of the script.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ESN5hbQGWWA&t=18s

The filmmakers will celebrate when the film has a theatrical premiere in Los Angeles at the Regent Theater on Wednesday, June 20th after its festival circuit premiere in the city at the Non Plussed Fest last July. The special advance screening of “The Icarus Line Must Die” is to be followed with live sets by Joe Cardamone (The Icarus Line), Annie Hardy (Giant Drag) and Melissa Brooks (The Aquadolls), as well as DJ Sets by Keith Morris (Black Flag, Circle Jerks, OFF!) and Together Pangea. Doors 7:30pm / Show 8pm and this event is all ages. The Regent Theater is located at 448 S. Main St. Los Angeles, CA, 90013

Tickets: https://www.ticketfly.com/event/1685464-icarus-line-must-die-official-los-angeles/

“The Icarus Line Must Die” will then open in Los Angeles on June 22nd at the Laemmle Royal. We can hope Dark Star Pictures will have a rollout theatrically this summer to include Austin, TX before the film is available on July 10th through various digital platforms. For updates on the film screenings and digital release, visit https://www.facebook.com/theicaruslinemustdie

The film has a running time of 83 minutes and will not be rated by the MPAA.

Sources: Dark Star Pictures, Nonplussedfest.com

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