My Favorite Movies – 45RPM (2017)

10 Jun

By Tanner Smith

Wait…Juli Jackson’s “45RPM” was in film festivals starting 2013 and it wasn’t officially released until 2017?! Well, that just further proves a point I made in other posts–2017 was a darn good year for movies!

What are my absolute favorite movies (my top 5 desert-island movies, if you will)? War Eagle, Arkansas. Stand by Me. Back to the Future. Before Sunrise…..and Juli Jackson’s “45RPM.”

Now, let me just say right off the bat…it can definitely be argued that I have a personal bias towards this film because…well, I’ll get to it in a little bit.

“45RPM” is about an artist named Charlie, who gets a grant to create something new and unlike her previous painted works. But she doesn’t feel inspired to paint anything different because all she thinks about is a song she heard as a child–from her father’s Southern garage-rock band’s 45 LP, which she hasn’t heard since. She believes listening to the song again will help her see the image in her head more clearly, so she goes on a wild goose chase to a record store in Memphis–but it turns out to be a bust. But the store owner, Louie, also develops an interest for the record because his favorite obscure bluesman may have contributed to it way back when. So, Louie brings Charlie along on a road trip through Arkansas. They go to swap meets, garage sales, antique stores, wherever they can find clues that can lead them to a copy of the record if it even still exists.

I was very, very hesitant about calling “45RPM” one of my all-time personal favorite films for a long time. For one thing, I know the director. Juli Jackson, who wrote and directed the film, is an old friend/mentor of mine, and her story of making this film inspires me to this day.

For another, I know many of the actors in it, such as Candyce Hinkle, Johnnie Brannon, Jason Willeyy, Duane Jackson, and other Arkansas talents I’ve worked with since the making of this film.

And also, I’m IN the film! I play the emo laundromat employee who directs Charlie and Louie to another potential clue. (I’m only in it for a minute–filming that scene was one of the best days of my life.)

But I can’t help my feelings towards this wonderful film that I’m more than proud to have been a part of. The writing is excellent; the story is engaging; the two lead characters of Charlie and Louie are very appealing and brilliantly acted by Liza Burns and Jason Thompson; there’s a great feel for Arkansas throughout a great portion of the film (it still feels like home to me); I love that the soundtrack is mostly filled with Southern garage-rock singles; and…I can’t help it–I love, LOVE this movie!!

Every time I watch this film and I know my scene is coming (about an hour and 13 minutes in), I’m very tempted to skip ahead to the next scene. (It’s not my best work as an actor.) But I can’t–because it’s a reminder that I was part of this great film, even for a little while.

When posting about my favorite movies, I like to talk about my favorite scene of the movie in question. Well…for “45RPM,” I have three favorite scenes. One is a scene in which music aficionado Louie tries to communicate to artist Charlie why he doesn’t create his own music–the dialogue in this 3-minute segment is priceless. Another is a scene I loved reading in Juli’s screenplay–it involves a bridge, and that’s all I’ll say about it. And the third is an emotional final moment, filled with clarity and nostalgia.

There aren’t enough kind words I can say about this treasure of a film that I embrace wholeheartedly. And I consider it my personal mission to introduce any new people to it however I can. (One of my personal victories for me this year was getting a coworker of mine to watch it–after he did, he said he loved it, and I told him everything I knew about the making of it.)

I’ve said it many times before, and I’ll say it again: I LOVE this movie!

“45RPM” is available on-demand.

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