Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me is a feature-length documentary film about the dismal commercial failure, subsequent massive critical acclaim, and enduring legacy of pop music's greatest cult phenomenon, Big Star.
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BIG STAR: NOTHING CAN HURT ME is a feature-length documentary about legendary Memphis band Big Star. While mainstream success eluded them, Big Star's three albums have become critically lauded touchstones of the rock music canon. A seminal band in the history of alternative music, Big Star has been cited as an influence by artists including REM, The Replacements, Belle & Sebastian, Elliott Smith and Flaming Lips, to name just a few. With never-before-seen footage and photos of the band, in-depth interviews and a rousing musical tribute by the bands they inspired, BIG STAR: NOTHING CAN HURT ME is a story of artistic and musical salvation. Written by
When listing current artists that were influenced by Big Star, Elliott Smith is seen introducing a Big Star cover song on the Jon Brion Show with the date 1996. The show was not recored until 2000. See more »
I went into the theater expecting a rock-n-roll documentary about a group I'd never heard of. I agree with many of the reviewers here that the film starts slowly and appears to want to convince me that this extraordinary ensemble just didn't get the break they needed. The point was pounded home time and again but, not being an big fan of rock-n-roll I felt the need of more evidence, until the story began to break about the individuals in the band and the emotional content of their work together and their lives. It was as if they all--with the exception of Chris Bell--assumed they'd get what they deserved, and too bad if that was less than it might be. Here is where the story begins to become intriguing, but the payoff is not complete.
I am the same age as the Beatles, roughly, and bought their albums and the mythology that went along with them. I admit I didn't know much more about rock-n-roll than that. If you'd ask me what the band who produced "The Letter" was I would probably have said The Monkees. In fact, the lead singer on that number was Alex Chilton, who became the central member of Big Star.
In the q-and-a after the showing of BIG STAR, the director revealed that much of the angst endured by Chris Bell had to do with homosexuality, and there is an area of silence around this facet his life when you are interviewing his family and remaining friends. The nugget of information would be crucial to the narrative of the band and explain to a degree why the film didn't fully work for me. I could tell Bell was difficult, tormented, and probably a genius--but what his demons were, and what his relationship with Chilton was, was not even hinted at. He seemed petulant and jealous that Chilton became the star of the group, but the level of disillusion, betrayal and pain didn't seem to come from anywhere.
The film made me think; it informed me of much I didn't know about the Memphis scene and rock-n-roll in the 70s, when I was off into folk and then into old-time pop music and jazz. I parted company with the mainstream but not to the degree Big Time did. Nevertheless it is interesting to learn about their path. Now that I know there is a great deal more to their story, I would love to hear that as well.
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