Mark Escribano’s documentary, “The Super Noble Brothers,” was a trip. I saw it screen at the Milwaukee Art Museum last Friday with MKE photographer Christine Taylor, and we really enjoyed it.
It was obviously a photographer’s movie; the footage was gorgeous. It was also obviously a musicphile’s movie. The soundtrack — which Escribano gave away to the viewers — was an excellent mix of rare funk and local tracks (from the Pacers and the Thousandaires, bands the Noble brothers were in, and acts like Eric Blowtorch) — both of which featured prominently in the film.
Now that I know it’s basically a story of how three brothers in Riverwest pursue their music and art from 1999 to 2006, I can say that it absolutely works. It works as documentation of Riverwest’s art scene, and of the Noble family’s struggle. There’s also fleeting moments of the lifestyle intrinsic to Milwaukee that I think both the filmmaker and the family are lucky they captured on celluloid.
Other than the fact that watching movies in one sitting is really a struggle for me (I think I have A.D.D.) my one complaint was that the sound gave me a headache, because it didn’t seem mixed down.
After I wrote the story on Escribano for a previous issue, someone raised the question of the Noble brothers selling drugs to set up their business. Obviously nothing of the sort was ever discussed with me, but the film did feature a few scenes with gigantic marijuana plants. It was talked about, though.
Another point that wasn’t really brought up in the 80-minute film was how Andy and Tommy, the two older brothers, were really early purveyors of the old-school funk revival. When they were making the film, he said, that kind of music was really obscure. Their record label and store Lotus Land Records helped bring that sound out of basement bins and onto dancefloors, Andy said.
The day after I saw the movie, I was playing the soundtrack in my car when my sister said, “I want to go to a club where they play music like that.” So we headed over to the Redlight where I knew Andy Noble was spinning, and I got to ask both Andy and Mark a few more questions.
Even though the film was shot over seven years, Escribano only went through about 80 hours of film for the movie, which was a lot less than expected. Davey and Andy’s girlfriends weren’t named in the movie, and they weren’t too pleased with that fact. The bad sound was attributed to the theater. Otherwise, Andy said, everyone generally liked how they were represented.
And now that it’s all done? We bumped into the Noble’s dad after the screening, and he said it was a relief, after eight years of work.