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Cassette: A Documentary Mixtape (2016)

TV-MA | | Documentary, Music | 27 June 2016 (UK)
Cassette inventor Lou Ottens digs through his past to figure out why the audiotape won't die. Rock veterans like Henry Rollins, Thurston Moore, and Ian MacKaye join a legion of young bands ... See full summary »


Zack Taylor (as Zachary Taylor), Georg Petzold | 1 more credit »


Georg Petzold, Zack Taylor (as Zachary Taylor)
1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »


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Credited cast:
Damien Jurado Damien Jurado ... Self
Ian MacKaye ... Self
Thurston Moore ... Self
Lou Ottens Lou Ottens ... Self
Henry Rollins ... Self
Mike Watt Mike Watt ... Self


Cassette inventor Lou Ottens digs through his past to figure out why the audiotape won't die. Rock veterans like Henry Rollins, Thurston Moore, and Ian MacKaye join a legion of young bands releasing music on tape to push Lou along on his journey to remember.

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Documentary | Music


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"Draw something... resembling... anything!!"
12 August 2020 | by rooprectSee all my reviews

Bonus points to anyone who recognizes the quote in my title from a classic 80s romcom (talk about nostalgia). But that's the feeling this documentary left me with. The forgotten cassette tape is a GREAT subject for a documentary, and although I'm about to mostly bash this film, I'm very appreciative that someone made the effort of filming a documentary about the poor bygone cassette tape. But wow, this experience was a bummer. You end up waiting 90 minutes for anything of substance--hard-hitting facts, interesting trivia, or humorous anecdotes--but ultimately it's as empty as that Led Zeppelin IV case that sat in the glove box of your car for 7 years because you hoped whoever stole the tape would eventually bring it back, but no dice.

"Cassette: A Documentary Mixtape" is a well-intended documentary, done professionally with good (stock?) footage and a nice glossy shine. Oddly, it's the opposite of what it attempts to portray: the idea that the cassette tape revolutionized music because it brought music into the raw, grubby, un-commercial hands of the public. I loved that message, but ultimately the documentary chose to take a different path.

There are 3 routes the filmmakers could have taken to make this documentary a success: (1) they could have gone the historical route and made this an educational film - which they did not. (2) They could have gone the technical route and dug deep into the acoustics of why tape/analog is different than digital - which they did not. Or (3) they could have gone the comedy/entertainment route and made this a cheeky, bizarro documentary full of interviews with oddballs, fanatics and weirdos (sort of like the entertaining and partially disturbing documentary about comic con fans, "Ambassadors of Hollywood") - which they did not.

Instead, this documentary chose route (4) which is pure sentimentality and nostalgia. It works for the first 20 minutes as we meet the grey-haired octogenarians who were responsible for the cassette's design back in 1963, but that runs out of juice fast, especially because the old fellers aren't particularly excited about the subject themselves. They just sort of sit around taking long pauses between sentences, talking about random things as the documentary gives us a sappy soundtrack of slow guitar plucking in the background. "You're not a very nostalgic person" the interviewer says at one point to the inventor of the cassette. This is followed by a long silence and then "no".

"Say something! Resembling anything!" I found myself shouting in frustration. Nobody wanted to enjoy this documentary as much as me, especially since I just took the plunge and bought a box of 50 random cassettes off ebay and was hoping to get hyped for my ear-muffling musical marathon. Instead, I feel like that moment when you realize, oops I left my Cyndi Lauper tape on the dashboard and it melted into soup. The slow nostalgia of this flick sucked the life out of me, and unless all 50 cassettes I receive end up being Enya, I definitely don't feel like this flick put me in the appropriate mood for my rediscovery of 80s awesomeness. Well maybe we can try again in 50 years when someone does a documentary about the CD.

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Release Date:

27 June 2016 (UK) See more »

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Cassette See more »

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