It’s eerie to watch Kevin MacDonald’s Marley, a biography of reggae legend Bob Marley. This isn’t just the guy whose face is stamped onto tie-dyed shirts and dorm-room posters, after all. He’s a certifiable enigma, a musician driven as much by his obstacles as his creative talents. So Marley is a thoughtful take on not just its subject, but the conflicts that defined him: his religious convictions, the political strife he challenged in post-colonial Jamaica, and how he tried to bridge the two with music. Lending depth to his story, also, is the Marley family stamp of approval: Relatives gave MacDonald access to songs, concert tapes, and a treasure trove of clips that the director uses masterfully to explore Marley’s artistic development. It’s almost too much, frankly—Marley runs longer than two hours. But it’s tough to argue that interviews with Bunny Wailer and Lee “Scratch” Perry belong anywhere near the cutting room floor—both icons show up and dazzle with humor and stories of the old days. And once it’s all over, Marley stands out as a definitive account of one of the 20th century’s most influential artists. That alone is worth more than 140 minutes. The film shows through at least Thursday at E Street Cinema, 555 11th St. NW. $11. (Christopher Heller)
Local lo-fi popsters America Hearts have a couple of vinyl releases to their name. But while their latest project invokes one of the more cherished traditions of indie pop—the subscription singles club—it’s friendly to the vinyl-averse. Beginning this month, the Jess Matthews-led quartet will release three digital EPs of mostly new jams. The first EP, Angsty (tagline: “Songs about being the only one in the room in a 311 shirt”), is available April 23. Then comes Messy on May 24 and Country on June 27. When the band plays its singles-club kickoff show at Black Cat tonight, all attendees will be given an Angsty download card. America Hearts performs with Foul Swoops and DJ Rick Taylor from We Fought the Big One at 8 p.m. at Black Cat Backstage, 1811 14th St. NW. $8. (Jonathan L. Fischer)
Organizers of VegWeek 2012 are asking everyone to abstain from eating meat for a full seven days. For the most carnivorous among us, that’s asking a lot. True story: The last time I tried to go vegetarian, I barely lasted six days. Here’s a reason to stick it out for at least a few hours this evening: free beer. Beginning at 5 p.m., Mellow Mushroom is offering a free pint of Starr Hill pilsner to anyone who orders a vegan calzone, whole vegan pizza, or full-sized vegan hoagie. Ten percent of the proceeds benefit the local animal-rights non-profit Compassion Over Killing. Mellow Mushroom, 2436 18th Street NW, (202) 290-2778. (Chris Shott)
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