Morgan's Metal Mind

What's on: The Movies

Last week I went to the Sunshine theater on Houston to check out the Metallica documentary "Some Kind Of Monster". I must admit I was going into the film with alot of biases and preconceptions as I was a rabid young Metallica fan in High School, all that stopped (as it did for many of us) after the release of the "Black Album". Ever since the selling out of Metallica I have been diametrically opposed to everything they have done. Their music has lost the urgency and the band - their connection to the audience, instead they began a crusade for mallwide success, the worst kind of heresy for their original fan base. I'm not a fascist who thinks bands should never change their sound, but some bands just shouldn't (Motorhead / AC/DC / The Ramones to name a few) because the essence of their message would be betrayed, just like their early fans were, you know the ones who helped put them in the position to perform said betrayal in the first place. But I digress...

Some Kind of Monster changed me from a Metallica hater to sort of feeling pity for these guys. The movie begins with the boys struggling to create a new album after a five year hiatus and the sudden departure of long time whipping boy/bass player Jason Newstead, who comes out of the morass smelling like a rose. Lots of bellyaching ensues, arguments between drummer Lars Ulrich and a perpetually nasty James Hetfield conspire to replace the songwriting process as a capitulating and zenlike Kirk Hammett watches in disgust. The eventual upshot of this is the hiring of a 40g a month performance therapist, who looks like Lance Henriksen by way of Cliff Huxtable. Now what could possibly be more gay and less rock and roll than hiring a therapist for your thrash metal band ? Only one thing, rehab. A perpetually drunken James, who hasn't been off the road long enough to enjoy his millions or his somewhat alienated family decides it's time to run off to a recovery home and drops all of his commitments to the band and his fans to do so. The movie kind of stops here for a bit as Lars and Kirk and producer/bassist/kissass Bob Rock wait for their meal ticket to come back. It's at this point I was wishing for Cliff Burton to climb out of his grave and bitchslap them.

The action picks back up almost a year later when James returns from rehab with a bizarre kind of Clark Kent look (ie. glasses and a slightly altered hairstyle) accompanied by the usual recovering addict mantra bullshit of replacing a drug addiction with a 12 step addiction. He then  begins to inflict his newfound "clarity" on the boys who are just trying to squeeze a new album out of their completely constipated ass of a band. Working only from noon 'til 4 pm James becomes increasingly wussyish and irritating, I wish someone would give the poor guy a beer, which Lars seems to relish chugging all up in James' face by the way. Eventually the album gets made and Metallica goes on to sell millions of more crappy records, blah blah blah... 

I would recommend seeing this film as a compelling vision of a rock band/multinational corporation unraveling, the fact that it is Metallica or that they are a thrash band is besides the point, the movie could just as easily been about U2 (although I think they might have come off as a little less spoiled). The most entertaining aspect of the film is not the band itself but their supporting cast, Highlights include Jason Newstead splitting the scene before Metallica can visit him backstage with his new band Echobrain (would have liked some footage of him with Voivod), a very heartfelt sit down between Lars and ex Metallica guitarist/Megadeth frontman/fellow 12 stepper Dave Mustaine which really does pull at the heartstrings, and a wonderful moment when new bass player Robert Trujillo (Suicidal Tendencies) gets hit off with a Million dollar check to join Metallica and we see him gleefully jumping up and down on his bed with his bass in hand like we all did when we were little kids. There is also a golden moment when Lars' dad disses their new track, he is so interesting I would like to see a documentary about him and why he looks so much like Gandalf. Also not to be missed, the argument of whether or not there should be guitar solos on the new album (?????). 

So I would give the film six stars out of a possible ten, but if you ever had an emotional investment in Metallica I would give it a 10. Go run out and see it, or just wait for dvd or cable or the paperback.

I do also strongly suggest that you go out and rent the filmmakers' other films Paradise Lost 1 & 2 which are truly moving documentaries about the miscarriage of justice and the implications of being a metalhead down south where three young men are currently being imprisoned for the murders of three boys which they quite likely had nothing to do with, but were simply scapegoated out of prejudice and fear of black t-shirts, gripping stuff.

Til next time, DJ Morgan, Supervillain.

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