DiG!

Discussion in 'Reviews' started by Dan, Feb 10, 2006.

  1. Dan
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    Dan Senior Member

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    This was a really unique, interesting, disturbing music documentary. It follows the story of two bands, The Brian Jonestown Massacre and The Dandy Warhols. The lead singers/main creative forces behind these bands, Anton Newcombe and Courtney Taylor, respectively) were close friends whose music careers took vastly different terms. Whereas The Dandy Warhols signed to a big label, made flashy music videos, and became vaguely popular in America and flat-out famous in Europe, The Brian Jonestown Massacre basically self-combusted, mainly due to Newcombe himself.

    Through much of the film, it is clear that Newcombe is into some very, very heavy drugs, as are the rest of his band. There is a lot of controversy about the way that Newcombe is portrayed, but the fact is that there is only so much you can do with editing. He is very clearly heavy into heroin, and much of his ramblings give the impression that he is probably pretty heavy into LSD, too (at least from my VERY limited experience of being around people on acid). He is very much a tortured artist, and probably more than a little insane. We see that he often stops shows in the middle of songs to bitch out or occasionally beat up band members or audience members. To say that he is a little self-centered is an understatement: he assures all of the emloyees at the small record label he eventually signs with that he will make them tons of money; when producers and band members threaten to quit the band, he is unfazed, more than confident that he can make his records himself.

    So, the movie is, on one level, a study of a "tortured artist" type that is far more true to himself than most musicians could ever hope to be. To this day, every album he and his band ever recorded can be downloaded for free from their website. He is still known to stop shows and kick audience members in the head if they get out of line. The movie does not sugarcoat his personality at all, and the fact that his music is quite good (it sounds somehow like it's from the 60's, today, and the future) does not make up for the fact that he is a huge ass, as many of his ex-bandmates attest to in the film.

    The movie works on another level, dealing with the relationship of Courtney Taylor and Newcombe. Once their careers begin to really diverge, they seem to hate each other and sort of want to be the other person, all at the same time. Taylor envies Newcombe's independence, going so far as to stage a photo shoot for his band at the BJM's very run-down house/rehearsal space. At the same time, he has enough common sense to know the realities of the music industry and how to play the game well enough to make a decent career out of it. Newcombe often disregards Taylor as a sellout, and yet he seems to constantly follow him, probably jealous of at least some of his successes, even as he knows that he will never be able to have a career like the Dandy Warhols'. They attack each other visciously in songs (The Dandy Warhols' "Heroin is so Passe", BJM's "Not if You Were the Last Dandy on Earth"). Their relationship is a complex and compelling one.

    The final level that the movie works on is simply as a cautionary tale against the dangers of drugs. We see that Newcombe is already slightly off-kilter, but by the time he hits the peak of his heroin addiction, we see how much the drugs really have ruined him. One really disturbing moment, for me, comes when he melts down onstage (not an uncommon occurrence) in L.A. and tells members of the audience to shoot him in front of everyone. It's little, weird things like that that really leave a lasting impression in this regard.

    Something tells me that probably ClayTaurus or Lefty Wilbury will have been the only ones who have heard of this, or would want to see it based on this review, but it really is a great documentary, regardless of whether you're a fan of the music or not.
     
  2. The ClayTaurus
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    The ClayTaurus Senior Member

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    I got excited for a second that this was about DJ digging... but it still sounds like it might be worth checking out...
     
  3. Lefty Wilbury
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    Lefty Wilbury Active Member

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    i saw this oin the sundance channel a little while back. the singer from the Brian Jonestown Massacre to me at least is trying to do his best "i am the next brian wilson" routine but he is one nasty mother. he seems to be more of an i'm an actor acting the part of a tortured musican because most of his music is a direct ripoff of mid to late sixties pop. now if he was creating new sounds and getting nowhere i could understand but to rehash something else?i loved the fight on stage too. too funny.
     
  4. Dan
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    Dan Senior Member

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    Did I call it or what? Ya can't deny me, Billy!!!

    I don't think he's all that much of an actor or poser. I do think he sincerely thought he would be the next rock god. Of course, simply by thinking that, he was kind of already doomed to never achieve it.

    I think Joel Gion (BJM's tambourine player) was more of a poser than Anton, though Joel also seemed to have a sense of humor and realize that at the end of the day, he's just a tambourine player.

    And, yeah, from what I heard of the music, it didn't sound as great as everyone made it out to be. Of course, in this day and age, it's nearly impossible to create a brand-new sound and not sound like ANYBODY has before, but like Ryan Adams, I think Anton wears his influences a little too proudly to ever get too much credit as an original songwriter.

    And, yeah, the onstage fights were funny, although him kicking the guy in the face at the end freaked me out (I have a weird, instinctual aversion to kicks to the face, more so than any other form of human vs. human violence). However, I think as a result of these fights, he will probably be remembered as the GG Allin of indie rock, the spectacle comes first, the music a distant second.
     
  5. Lefty Wilbury
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    Lefty Wilbury Active Member

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    with the singer it was ego before talent not the other way around. i've run into a bunch of those types over the years. the i'm the star of this band even though i can't play and , write or sing very well. its not just trying to be original but when your sound and look is almost like you time warped from the 60s to me makes you seem like more of an noveltiy. at least try to be different even then if you sucked you at least tried.
     

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