Cobain: Montage of Heck

I had been wanting to see this for a while, but was not able to find it on DVD or elsewhere, so when I found it on Netflix in the “just added” category I immediately watched it (just after finishing Death Race 2000).

It is a well made documentary of Kurt’s life from birth to his death in 1994 (only a few weeks before Ayrton Senna’s death…bad year). There is a lot of archival footage which mostly came directly from his family, along with audio recorded by Kurt before his Nirvana days. There are also interviews with his mother, father, sister, ex-girlfriend, Krist Novoselic, and Courtney Love of course (this documentary was her idea). Dave Grohl was interviewed for the documentary, but for various reasons he was left out.

Kurt was obviously talented early on, but also quite troubled due to his personality and family troubles. Things only got worse when Nirvana got big, and he met Courtney.

There were many shots of pages from his diaries and notebook scribbles (done through some nifty animations) that showed just how disturbed he was, it was hard to read at times.

Buzz Osboune, a close friend of Kurt’s, and the founding member of The Melvins criticised this film, saying it was “90% bullshit”. However, Krist came out saying Buzz talks like that sometimes, so who knows what to believe. There were some animated scenes depicting what Kurt had wrote about in his diary that did seem just a bit too far fetched, and from what I have read about Kurt it seems to be nothing more than his dark humour.

As the film nears the end it gets quite depressing, especially in the home videos taken by Courtney showing an obviously drugged-up Kurt. The scene where they give baby Frances Bean her first haircut is a downer.

So it is a fascinating, sometimes hard to believe, and ultimately sad look at the life of Kurt Cobain. After you finish watching this, put In Utero on the turntable to cheer yourself up.

Date watched: January 25th
Score: 8.5/10
Film count 2018: 5

Frank

This is a quirky film about an aspiring musician who suddenly becomes the keyboardist in a freaky band. The lead singer has a giant papier-mâché head which he never takes off, even to eat or take a shower.

All in all it is an entertaining film. The music, all performed by the actors themselves was quite good at times, and the acting was solid. It had a good ending too.

Nice.

Date watched: August 3rd
Score: 8/10
Film count 2017: 85

For The Love Of Spock

I felt like watching a documentary again and found this one on Netflix. I have read Leonard Nimoy’s autobiography as well as The Shat’s recent book about Leonard himself, so I wasn’t expecting to learn much more.

But, it was good to see archive footage of some of the stuff I read about in the books, including his early roles in various films and TV. He did a lot of small roles in film and TV before he got all famous. Even while he was all famous he still kept himself busy, figuring that one day it would all end, so he had better make as much money as possible. Good thinking really. It meant though that he made several terrible music albums, and there was one music video of him singing an absolutely terrible and rather embarrassing song titled “The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins”, which you can see here.

This was directed by his son Adam who did a rather good job of it overall. There were plenty of interviews with various people including Leonard’s brother, who has a voice just like Leonard’s, George Takei, The Shat, Walter Koenig (funny hearing him talk in his American accent), some of the cast of the new Star Trek films, and with Jim Parsons of “The Big Bang Theory” (a show I have recently started watching from the beginning). All had nice things to say about him of course. There were also archive interviews with Leonard back in the day. Nothing was said of Leonard’s falling out with The Shat.

If there is one criticism I would have it would be the over-use of violins throughout the film, it was laid on a bit thick at times. Otherwise it was a worthwhile watch.

Date watched: July 29th
Score: 8.5/10
Film count 2017: 84

Blue Ruin

This is on Netflix, in the “Cannes Winners” category, so I thought it was worth a watch. And reading up about this on the interwebs I found that it was partly funded through Kickstarter.

In the main role was a chap named Macon Blair who also produced the film, and it was directed and written by Jeremy Saulnier. Both of them had been making films since they were kids. Macon was brilliant as a meek but revenge-thirsty homeless dude, out to avenge the deaths of his parents. The story is quite simple and slow at first, with the back story slowly revealed until the climax where things pick up, along with a few small twists.

Eve Plumb who was one of the Brady Bunch kids turns up near the end, playing a rather nasty family member of the killer’s violent family.

Brilliant stuff, and for a budget of only US$420,000 it is even more impressive. The cinematography was excellent, and it had a good soundtrack too.

Date watched: July 28th
Score: 9.5/10
Film count 2017: 83

The poster likens it to a Coen Brother’s film, which I think is a fair comparison.

What Happened, Miss Simone?

This is a superbly made documentary about a musician I knew almost nothing about, which is the reason I decided to watch it.

Nina was a brilliant but troubled person, and she had a very difficult life at times. She was also bipolar, and had quite the temper. She once attempted to shoot a record producer because she thought he was taking her royalties, and in one scene in the film she stopped playing during a concert and shouted at a woman in the audience who was not sitting down.

She was however a brilliant musician. There was a story in the documentary about how Miles Davis was watching her play and could not understand how she was doing what she was doing, which if it stumped Miles Davis must have been something very special.

The film was very well told, and featured interviews with her ex-husband (he beat her a lot), and her daughter who also produced this documentary. There was plenty of archive footage, including some rather shocking footage of the unbelievable treatment that African Americans were subject to back in the 60’s, especially from the police. She was a staunch activist for many years.

A very worthwhile watch if you are a lover of music history.

Date watched: July 24th
Score: 10/10
Film count 2017: 82

The Dictator

I realised not long after I started watching it that I had seen this before, back in January 2014 to be exact, but I decided to finish it.

My review then was that it was a bit weak and rather silly, which has not changed. There were some funny moments though, and being a Sacha Baron Cohen film it was pretty crude in places.

It wasn’t really worth watching again. Finding good films on Netflix is difficult, but I found a good article today about good lesser-known films to watch on Netflix, so I will try one tonight.

Date watched: July 22nd
Score: 5/10 (6/10 in my previous review)
Film count 2017: 80

Clerks

A few weeks back I started my one month free trial of Netflix, which so far is worth continuing just for the excellent selection of TV series to watch (I am watching Narcos at the moment, as well as a two-part series about Frank Sinatra).

Browsing through the “Classics” category I came across this film (there is no “Cult” category on Netflix, which is where this film should be), a film I have been wanting to watch for some time.

It was pretty much what I imagined what it would be, and while some of the jokes where a bit silly, I enjoyed it. The acting was at times amateurish, but the dialogue and acting by the main cast was funny and despite being set mostly inside a convenience store, was not dull.

This was shot on a US$27,575 budget, and was filmed in the actual convenience and video rental stores that director Kevin Smith worked in.

There is a sequel, but I can’t find it on Netflix.

Date watched: July 21st
Score: 8/10
Film count 2017: 79