A Dog Called Money (2019) Poster

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Looking through a two-way mirror
hjart630 September 2019
Explore the artistic process behind what is likely to become a very strong album for PJ Harvey. We witness Harvey visit character-rich, and resource-lacking places. Here are jams with locals, grave tales from the street and visible effects on a post-war country. Meanwhile home in London, Harvey sets up a recording studio made into an art exhibit that lets the audience peer into her recording process. We as the audience are similarly given this same experience.

For someone deeply interested in music and songwriting, it's a relevatory documentary that shows how inspiration in the real world translates to an auditory experience in the studio (with the help of outstanding musicians).
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9/10
Portrait of not just an artist, but the artist inside everyone....
mikeyboy-lol9 November 2019
With the bold decision of abruptly ending the film with no tacked on answer, or roundabout way of explicitly surmising the state of the world, the viewer is left to both peer into the empathetic and ponderous nature of Harvey's creative process regarding this album, and to reflect on their own life experiences. We are all lost spectators, and this film reminds us of the enriching but harrowing nature of finding ourselves, by listening to and finding a human connection with others.
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7/10
Portrait of an Album
abc4d3e2f15 March 2020
PJ Harvey seems to be an awesomely weird chick, and I like to watch movies that explore an artist's creative process. PJ Harvey accompanies a photographer Seamus Murphy on his reporting trips over the four years. They visit Afganistan, Kosovo, and Washington. The footages from the recording session switch with footage from their trips with voice over by Harvey herself. She doesn't tell us straight what she sees or feels, but she gives her emotions forward in poetry.

It was beautiful and at the same time a sad movie - to see how this world is torn apart by corporate greed, politics, and war, and yet there are all these people trying to go on with their lives, and some even trying to create something beautiful. I didn't like how the film that just observed still took a political stance (quite a strong one, I might add), towards the end, where they showed images from Trump's inauguration. I'm not much fond off the guy, but I'm getting tired of all this anti-Trump thing by now.

A beautiful movie that shows the beautiful artist in making a gift to the world. Not particularly informative documentary and most definitely not the best rockumentary out there, but I enjoyed the general vibe of the movie.
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7/10
Sensible access into Harveys head
qeter26 October 2019
Seen at Viennale 2019: An early highlight of the Festival? This rockumentary catches my attention from the begin to the end. The way how thoughtful and intellectual Harvey visits all these places of different lifestyles is really impressive. Before her England record Harvey composed her songs from the inside out. With England she got her impressions from the outside of her own country. And for the next album she went abroad in the world. A very poetic access to countries we know from the newspapers as poor or war zones. Harvey goes to all this places and in every place she finds spirit for the better. Only at Republican Party's in Washington the string of believe in the power of human beings breaks. It is a shocking final in a beautiful movie with beautiful music. And gosh, what a fantastic voice PJ has to work with. She is gifted. And she uses her gift with touching humility. Highly recommended.
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6/10
I'm conflicted
actonbell8 December 2020
I'll start by saying I've been a PJ Harvey fan since the beginning, and I saw her on tour for the album this film documents. I really enjoyed seeing more of who she is, her image has always been a bit impenetrable, remote, curated. But I'm wrestling with this film. First, for the first time I really noticed that PJ exclusively surrounds herself with (mostly adoring, it seems) men as her collaborators. Not one woman in the film, except for those in burkas or in the margins of her "grief safari" as another reviewer put it, or those who paid to gaze upon her as she invited spectators in a one-way windowed studio to watch her adoringly. I admired what she was trying to do, but it really looked like she was putting herself in the frame with a lot of marginalized, poor people, then recreating their melodies and rhythms back in her warm, immaculate, white studio with invited spectators to watch. It was... odd. Troubling, even. One detail amused me: in the credits, near the end, there's a space left before and after the designer of PJ's wardrobe, a credit given great privilege. That's when it occurred to me: She had her hair and make-up done in every shot -- in Kosovo, in Afghanistan, in the poor neighborhoods of DC. She brought these gorgeous, witchy designer outfits from (I learned, thanks to the credit) a Belgian couture designer. Every shot of these poor communities pans across something, yes, fascinating to watch, but then there's Polly, perched in her outfit, gazing on and also there to be gazed upon, witnessed, admired by us. What are we to make of this? It certainly smacks of exploitation. At the same time, I've always admired PJ as an artist, so shouldn't I give her credit for connecting with so many people and creating something out of her impressions of these overlooked or oppressed people and the beautiful art they make? Well, when Paul Simon collaborated with Ladysmith Black Mambazo, he was later rightly called out for exploitation and appropriation. Is this different? Perhaps only in that the Afghani men keening in their worship were probably neither credited nor compensated for the melody she specifically recreated in her recording. She came off looking like her own very special, arty brand of diva, with troublingly British aspects of artistic colonization. At the same time, I know she was trying to do something ambitious and risky. She sure looked great doing it.
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4/10
Exploitation.
torrascotia25 November 2020
As interesting as this is to a non PJ Harvey fan, I have not heard any of her music prior to this, this documentary leaves an overwhelming sense of exploitation. Part travel doc, part recording session and part navel gazing we follow PJ Harvey through a number of destinations. All they have in common is poverty, war and human suffering. This appears as a kind of poverty and grief safari which the artist can use as "inspiration" for an album which will no doubt bring in some cash. I used commas for inspiration as some of the resulting tracks seem to steal music from the locals of where she visits, no doubt they will be left off the sleeve notes and without cash from their input. Unfortunately white musicians have the knack for appropriation without compensation. At the same time as trying to pretend they are doing something deep or clever by copying music from other countries and cultures. A dog called money? Maybe call it something more accurate like rich artists visit the poor for profit? It's well shot but it's a very shallow exercise in rich peoples hypocrisy of pretending to care about the poor while making money off them. A quick look at her Instagram page shows over 330 thousand followers and not a single person followed back. Tells you all you need to know about the focus of this documentary. Avoid unless you are a fan.
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4/10
Disappointing
garethcrook7 February 2021
More than a simple behind the scenes look at PJ Harvey's 'The Hope Six Demolition Project' album... at least that's the idea. This documentary looks deep into the inspiration behind the music and lyrics. As Polly and director Seamus Murphy travel around the world. I'll be honest, that's not of much interest for me. What is though is how The Hope Six Demolition Project was recorded, in a goldfish bowl in Somerset House. The public invited to watch the process through one way glass. I recall reading about this at the time and thinking I'd like to go see and hear that. I couldn't be bothered going down to london though. Now we have this doc and it probably gives a much broader view than I'd have got with a single hour or however long I'd have stood there for... again that's the idea. Now not to say that the travels depicted here aren't important. They give it context and set it apart from pure process and it's notable that lyrically in particular there's a lot of influence and there's some themes that are outright lifted directly from sounds, songs and prayers they hear. The stuff shot on the road does feel superfluous though. I'm a PJ Harvey fan, I've seen these songs performed live. Polly is a stunning performer, as are her band. This though feels far too carefully choreographed. Murphy captures some great shots. Of their travels, of Polly, of the studio, all accompanied by Polly's rather dry narration. It's awkward and sterile. It's still interesting, I just wish I'd felt that we'd been let in a little bit more. Surely that was the purpose. So we get a mix of Kosovo, DC, Syria and Somerset House both sides of glass. The songs are good, not Harvey's best, for that I'd go with Rid of Me, Dry, Let England Shake. But it did make me listen to the album again and stuff like River Anacostia and The Ministry of Defence are superb. It's enjoyable to watch the band perform and to watch raw takes. As a documentary though it doesn't really work. It's just a string of random clips with little to no structure or reason. Worse than that it feels like it's taking advantage, using the poverty of others for arts sake. Maybe I'm being harsh, but I don't think so. It takes nothing away from the music and I'm no less a fan having watched this. You could argue where do ideas come from after all, it's all influence and reimagining, one thing sparks another. Perhaps Polly should keep this sort of thing to herself though. She's cultured a career by being slightly aloof, I think that works better. As for Murphy, I feel he's done the best with his hands tied.
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