© Real Fiction

Carmine Street Guitars
U.S.A. 2018

Opening 29 Aug 2019

Directed by: Ron Mann
Writing credits: Len Blum

Settle back in your seats and relax in to this delightfully charismatic music documentary. It throbs with enthusiasm as fingers pick and fingers slide across one of Rick Kelly’s gems. Observe musicians’ faces as he/she falls in love with the custom guitar while caressing it.

Rick Kelly, proprietor and guitar maker, Cindy Hulej, apprentice five years now, and Dorothy Kelly, shop manger and odd-jobber make up Carmine Street Guitars’ staff. Snuggled in the heart of New York City’s Greenwich Village, the storefront belies the treasure trove of custum guitars within. Made from woods scrounged or found from 100+ old buildings around the city, each instrument is a story, and has one to tell. Rick’s tales hearken back to watching Jimmie James/Hendrix and other greats play along Beaker Street, third-generation tools and dumpster diving. Stewart Hurwood relates a story about Lou Reed’s guitars; playing, Eleanor Friedberger sings, then compares notes with Cindy about women doing preconceived male work; Rick and Mark Ribot muse about the “invisible side of guitar music” and being “a lifer,” while with Jim Jarmusch the topic is each one’s favorite wood and why some trees are becoming extinct. Everyone has a story to share.

Jarmusch is Canadian director Ron Mann’s conduit to Carmine Street Guitars; years ago Jarmusch took Kelly a piece of old wood from his loft during renovations giving him the idea. Production values are in tune: Becky Parsons, John M. Tran cinematography, Robert Kennedy editing and Dallas Good, Travis Good music. To paraphrase, what fascinated Mann above all was the magical atmosphere and Rick’s Zen-like philosophy. “…[L]ove this guitar, it’s got a great vibe, a great vibe – much like this place,” Charlie Sexton comments laughing delightedly while playing the McSorley’s guitar. And to be sure, “No hippies were harmed in the making of this film.” (Marinell Haegelin)

The theaters below show films in their original language; click on the links for showtimes and ticket information.
Interviews with the stars, general film articles, and reports on press conferences and film festivals.
Subscribe to the free KinoCritics monthly email newsletter here.