East Nashville Tonight
Directed by Brad and Todd Barnes
Starring Todd Snider, Elizabeth Cook
East Nashville is separated from Nashville proper by the Cumberland River, but after viewing this movie, I think its more than just a river that keeps them apart. If "Music City" could be summed up with the soap opera Nashville on prime-time TV, then East Nashville Tonight is Cheech and Chong's Up In Smoke--with guitars.
The plot--such as it is--revolves around singer and Outlaw Country host Elizabeth Cook and her attempts to produce a pilot TV show at the behest of "the suits up my ass", after watching her mock attempts on the David Letterman Show. She brings in fellow East Nashville resident Todd Snider to "produce". What could go wrong? Well...
Todd Snider comes across as a nearly hapless clown, surrounded by a crew that includes drummer Paul Griffith, Chuck Mead from BR549, Tim Carroll and others who stroll through a scene, sing a number or two and then vanish, such as Kieran Kane and Tanya Coe. Snider's main focus is getting baked--or as he sings "Dope is dope/And you're high up on it"--and he seems to get a lot done in such a state of befuddlement. From arranging the show, to rehearsing with one band (while riding in a minivan) or playing a show ripped on 'shrooms, Snider reminds you of a guitar picking Hunter S. Thompson, without the rages.
Cook is a bit more focused, albeit completely stressed by life (at one point she carries around a "therapy dog" and seems to have a fondness for prescription meds), and her songs show off her flawless voice--too bad she didn't sing more. In the end the pilot gets made, with an awful "comedian T.B.D" and Phil Kaufman, road manager to the stars and the subject of Grand Theft Parsons, and Cook sounds just like she does on satellite radio, foul-mouthed and pissed--but charming.
I foresee this movie having a long career on the midnight movie circuit. Todd Snider is great, unfocused eyes and all, attempting to buy dope, tell a joke, or playing guitar, he's a great character, and the movie has a certain charm of "hey kids, lets put on a show!"--literally. As a film, well...we can call it amateurish and rushed, and at barely more than an hour, it still drags at points. East Nashville Tonight won't earn any awards, and I doubt I'll watch it again, but Snider and Cook? I wanna party with you.
Once. Any more than that just might kill me.