|Index||3 reviews in total|
This documentary offers a fantastic (if fragmented) view into the life
of tragic guitar hero Johnny Thunders. I would call this far from
complete; the history is left vague, with almost no regards to
chronology or the progression Thunders took from the New York Dolls to
the Heartbreakers and his solo career. The interviews (often with
current or ex-junkies) are mostly semi-coherent, and there are several
moments in the film where the editing leaves a bit to be desired,
including an extended sequence where Dee Dee Ramone is all but
inaudible as he talks over a loud Heartbreakers performance. Lech
Kowalski also decided to use almost no footage of Johnny Thunders
talking, one lone clip at the beginning being the only exception
All that being said, the film is still a very watchable and enjoyable look at the man himself. The incredible footage from both the days of the New York Dolls and early Heartbreakers is fantastic to watch, as are some of the stories shared about Johnny by friends and family.
For a more complete look at the history and untimely death of Johnny Genzale, a far better source would be the book "In Cold Blood..." by Nina Antonia, but for either a quick introduction to the man and the music or as an integral part of your obsessive collection, Born To Lose is well worth the time spent trying to locate a decent copy.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Lech Kowalski made a documentary called Story of a Junkie, which was a journey through the filthy, junkie littered and violent streets of NYC in the early eighties with a charismatic heroin addict called John Spacely ( Who's in this documentary also ) acting as our guide. The similarities with that film and this one are many especially the sense of going on a journey. In Story of a Junkie we go on a journey with John to score smack, here the journey is Johhny Thunders life, starting with elderly family and friends recollecting what kind of kid he was growing up in Brooklyn through to his early notoriety with the amazing New York Dolls, then onto the lesser successful but equally important Heartbreakers and Eighties solo work. Along the way we meet an array of groupies, dealers, unscrupulous managers with sad, funny and at times pathetic memories of their time with J. Thunders. Johhny himself isn't interviewed, which is by far this documentary's weakest point although not the only one. Editing is the another main weak point with several ridiculous examples, one being the interview with a barely awake drunk French band member and his mother which becomes impossible to understand, however there is a lot of live footage here and much of it is priceless especially the New york Dolls and Heartbreakers stuff on the other hand this being a journey with an end ( Johhny's Death ) It becomes truly grim as we move into the late eighties and Johhny frankly looked appalling with the sickest most abused body that anyone would pay money to see and the final still photographs of him in Bangkok in the early nineties are just frightening. It's the life of J.Thunders and it isn't the most pleasant of trips but if you've gotten here and are reading this then you probably want to take it too. RIP John ( Arthur Kane, Jerry Nolan & John Spacely too )
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Last night I watched 'Johnny Thunders: Born To Lose, The Last Rock and Roll Movie' (1999), although such was its harrowing nature that 'endured' fits better. He starts off in the New York Dolls; glam-punks with attitude and style, and -crucially- two guys who aren't completely stupid (David Johansen and Sylvain Sylvain). Away from the limos and the satin Johnny and his drug-buddies set about gradually destroying themselves until you can barely watch them doing it. A parade of the dead and dying (one guy clearly has AIDS) fill in the tale, but all you really have to see are those last two chilling photos on a Bangkok tattooist's wall, in which Thunders looks gravely thin and pained, full of disease and not happy to even be alive. I love his and the Dolls' music, but this (occasionally inept and incoherent) documentary made me feel like taking a shower. And never taking drugs again.
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