A documentary crew followed Metallica for the better part of 2001-2003, a time of tension and release for the rock band, as they recorded their album St. Anger, fought bitterly, and sought the counsel of their on-call shrink.
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Some Kind of Monster is a music documentary about Metallica's making of their album St. Anger and the difficulties they had to go through in the process. The directors shot over 1200 hours and followed the band around night and day for over a year to create this documentary. Written by
I saw this film at the True/False Film Festival in Columbia, Missouri, and was fortunate enough to hear some Q&A from the director after.
The two words that best describe Some Kind of Monster are "brutally honest." This is a no-holds-barred look at a band that has played together for two decades and is on the verge of disintegration from internal conflict, external pressures and creative stagnation. We see the members of Metallica not as icons, but as flawed individuals in a close, but often tumultuous relationship that has lasted longer than many marriages. At a fundamental level the seem to love each other, but as with many long-term relationships, they sometimes reach the point that they cannot stand the sight of one another.
Can they survive? Well, the mystery is obviously abated by knowing how the story ends (the production of the album St. Anger and the subsequent tour); but it in no way detracts from this interesting examination of the process of separation and reconciliation.
Central to the story is not only tension the band members experience in once again trying to bottle the lightning of musical success, but the fundamental changes taking place in James Hetfield's life as he enters rehabilitation for drug and alcohol addiction. While Hetfield's personal battle takes place off-screen, we see the powerful impact it is having on the rest of the group.
Some truly standout moments include the interaction between Lars Ulrich and his father Torben (an amusing and brutally honest character); the long-delayed meeting between Lars and Dave Mustaine (who was kicked out of the band in the early 80s and went on to found Megadeath); a long band meeting which consists mainly of screaming obscenities; the band's search for a new bassist; and the almost surreal scene of Hetfield attending his daughter's ballet recital.
If you wish to see the members of Metallica as icons, then Some Kind of Monster is probably not for you; however, if you would like an up-close view of them as very real human beings, then I highly recommend this film. Love them or hate them, you will bring something away from Some Kind of Monster.
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