A documentary on the once-promising American rock bands The Brian Jonestown Massacre and The Dandy Warhols, and the friendship/rivalry between their respective founders, Anton Newcombe and Courtney Taylor.
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Tracks the tumultuous rise of two talented musicians, Anton Newcombe, leader of the Brian Jonestown Massacre; and Courtney Taylor, leader of the Dandy Warhols; dissecting their star-crossed friendship and bitter rivalry. Both are hell-bent on staging a self-proclaimed revolution of the music industry. Through their loves and obsessions, gigs and recordings, arrests and death threats, uppers and downers--and ultimately to their chance at a piece of the profit-driven music business--how each handles his stab at success is where the relationship frays and burns. Written by
Sujit R. Varma
Excellent documentary, ostensibly about the friendship and subsequent
rivalry between two West Coast retro rock'n'roll bands: The Dandy
Warhols and the Brian Jonestown Massacre. What it actually turns out to
be is a portrait of a borderline psychopath - Anton Newcomb - and his
tortured relationship with the rest of the world. Interestingly, for a
music documentary, there is hardly any music. What there is - snatches
of songs, more often than not aborted by the performers - is incidental
rather than central. Although the protagonists are musicians, the story
is not about music but rather about a particularly American version of
a British myth of a cartoon lifestyle, ie, one where nobody has to take
responsibility for behaving like spoiled adolescents on a full-time
basis. Tantrums, drugs, violence, grossly dysfunctional attitudes,
egomania on a truly epic scale - all of this is excused or positively
encouraged because it conforms to some collectively held idea about
what rock'n'roll is about.
As a film this is a first-class documentary but it raises more
questions than it answers. For example, why is Anton's music so
conservative? For someone so wild and outrageous (and he IS wild and
outrageous) his music never seems to have progressed beyond the most
obvious derivations of his 60s idols (The Stones, Velvets etc.) For
someone who claims to be able to play 80 instruments he has never
bothered to learn to play any one of them beyond the most rudimentary
level. Similarly, the Dandy Warhols burning ambition is based on a
vision of rock'n'roll which is astonishingly fossilised in 1969.
Nothing wrong with pastiches, of course, but surely there's more to
musical life than perpetually acting out a cartoon from the late 60s.
Why don't they take some risks with their music - in the way that their
role models did? Because, one suspects, this is not about music. Music
is just an accessory, a prop, or an excuse, to lead completely
dysfunctional and irresponsible lives. But why? In the Dandy Warhols
case, the answer is obvious: to make lots of money and be famous. Big
deal. Anton Newcomb's case is more interesting. He is obviously very
talented, but every time he is given an opportunity to reach a wider
audience he sabotages it, usually in the most dramatic way possible. He
is terrified of success, and at the same time, deeply resents anyone
else who has it - especially his former friends the Dandy Warhols.
Fascinating movie. Highly recommended.
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