After seeing Death Cab for the second time in June last year i finally decided to shell out for this DVD. Before i felt it was a meaningless DVD designed to cash in on the rising popularity of Death Cab after their appearance on The OC and the success of 'Transatlanticism'. However, after witnessing their majestic professionalism and performance live once again, i was intrigued by how well they interact on stage, and whether the same would be shown on the road.
Perhaps the most surprising thing i learnt about the band was how sociable and humorous they are away from the stage. They always struck me as the kind of guys who were so into the technicalities of their music, that their persona away from it bordered on the arrogant. How wrong i was. The documentary is peppered with anecdotes and opinions, as well as an insight into how they write their amazing songs. Bassist Nick Harmer, something of a quiet individual on stage, is the most talkative and funniest members of the band. If anything, this DVD gives a lighter side to a band renowned for their emotionally intense songs.
Also engrossing are the live performances. Shot on 16mm film, what is brilliant is how intense they are live wherever they go. Each venue is a fresh start for them, and one gets the impression that they play their heart out every single show. My personal favourite performance is 'Company Calls' at the Workplay theatre. The slightly out of sync camera work mixed with the shambolic riff of the song gives the viewer the feeling of being there watching them play. Hats off to Justin Mitchell for bringing such a unique way of filming to our attention.
Overall, this DVD is fantastic value for money. If you've seen Death Cab before you'll be reminded of how great they are live, and if you haven't, this film will compel you to book tickets once they roll into your town again.
Drive Well, Sleep Carefully is a fantastic video documentary about the tour life of Seattle's indie band Death Cab For Cutie. The documentary was filmed and directed by Justin Mitchell. The footage was all captured on 16mm film during the tour following the band's 4th release, Transatlanticism.
Justin Mitchell is a filmmaker from Los Angeles, California. He has only done two other documentaries. His debut documentary was called Songs For Cassavetes. The film focuses on the indie and punk scene in the 1990s and was filmed all over the country. His second film was called Ted Leo & the Pharmacists: Dirty Old Town. It was basically a handful of interviews and live footage of Ted Leo and his band.
Drive Well, Sleep Carefully was released in 2005. The film features a lot of live footage of the band. Typically, in the middle of a song, the live scenes will cut to interviews with the band. Most of the interviews are with Ben Gibbard, who is the singer-songwriter and guitarist for the band. The interviews really capture the humor and the good nature of the band. Gibbard talks about his songwriting process and where the inspirations for his songs came from. Perhaps the most interesting part of the film is during the song, Styrofoam Plates. Gibbard talks about how the song focuses on one of his good friends, who had a negligent father. The song is about the man being at his father's funeral and everyone is saying all of these great things about him, but it's all just made up. Everyone really knows that he was not a good human being.
Mitchell has a good eye. It was an interesting choice to shoot the entire film on 16mm film. It gave the film a very personal touch. He incorporates a lot of unique camera shots, often including extreme close ups on the faces or the instruments. The footage allows the watcher to truly experience what it's like to be up on the stage in the band, as opposed to a member of the audience. At times, the camera work was a little too shaky for my personal taste, but I realize that he filmed it all without a tripod.
One of the oddest moments in the film was during their live performance of Company Calls. Mitchell put the video just slightly out of sync with the audio, giving the scene a dreamy feeling. It helped bring me into the state of mind of exhaustion that the band members were feeling during the tour.
The use of voice overs was very common in the film. They often instead of cutting to actually interview footage might just have Gibbard's voice over the live performance, giving a brief remark. This helped add to the artistic direction of the piece.
Overall, Drive Well, Sleep Carefully is a wonderful documentary about the band Death Cab For Cutie. If you are a Death Cab fan, I would highly recommend that you pick it up. You won't be disappointed.