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Monday, 18 April 2011 14:56

"Sound It Out" Sings a Lovely Tune

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Written by Diane Carson
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A good documentary needs an interesting subject and engaging footage with a complementary cinematic style. And for me, exceptional nonfiction fare surprises, delights, and informs. Producer/director Jeanie Finlay's Sound It Out qualifies on all counts. She found Tom, a solid, focused, passionate individual who anchors her documentary about a still surviving vinyl record shop in Stockton-on-Tees, England.

The official website for Sound It Out adds to the nostalgic pull by citing the statistic that "over the last five years an independent record shop has closed in the UK every three days." Finlay adds power to what that loss means (she grew up three miles away) as she listens to Tom's eclectic, 99% male clientele articulate clearly and passionately what this oasis means. Chris comes in every month to add funds to his credit account. Frankey and John-Boy love heavy metal and movingly explain that without it, and Tom's shop, they probably wouldn't still be around. Another says that the internet took the personality out of everything and another adds that Tom's is "the last bastion of sensibleness in the world."

Immensely appealing, Tom talks with each individual about all the "insane number of music genres," as he says. He proves what one customer observes, "What this man doesn't know about music isn't worth knowing." Several scenes include musicians playing in the store and a ragtag group thoroughly enjoying the entertainment.

Perfectly complementing Tom's gentle receptiveness, Finlay avoids any razzle-dazzle, showboat techniques. Her camera becomes another presence in the store, never panning, zooming, tracking or intruding. A few times she asks questions and customers speak directly to her. Music often plays in the background, providing the glue that holds scenes together in this lovely, engaging, 80 minute film that made me long for my old vinyl records.

A St. Louis premiere, Sound It Out screens at Webster University's Winifred Moore auditorium at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 22nd through Sunday, April 24th. Director Jeanie Finlay will lead a questions and answer session after the screenings both April 22nd and April 23rd. For more information and the current schedule, you may call 314-968-7487 or you may go to the web at: Webster.edu/filmseries

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