FILM REVIEW: Mötley Crüe – The Dirt by Jeff Tremaine

We have heard the hype about The Dirt, the biopic about Mötley Crüe for a long time. They have tried to make this film for ages, while it languished in development hell, finally getting made and out now streaming on Netflix. By the bands’ own admission, much like the book, the film is full of exaggerated lurid rock star clichés and partially real stories about the band. It’s just so out there and real. Too real for most people, like the band was at times.  Continue reading

FILM REVIEW: “Lords of Chaos” by Jonas Åkerlund

Hype and all that comes with it is a curious mistress to any fandom. It can take an unknown band in a tiny European country and create a global music phenomenon. It also can help eat the subject of it from the inside out. This is not only a microcosm of the rise of first-wave Norwegian Black Metal, but also the movie Lords of Chaos directed by Jonas Åkerlund (Gunpowder Sky, Vice Media/Insurgent Media, 20th Century Fox, Scott Free Productions). We’ve heard about this movie for so long, that I’m sure that some have very high expectations for this film. The film also has its many detractors as protectors of their genre, and those who never wanted to see this film made. We’re not going to use this review to retell the story we’ve all seen and heard before, but rather rate the merits of this film. Continue reading

FILM REVIEW: Bohemian Rhapsody – Bryan Singer & Dexter Fletcher

Biopics are a tough type of genre to analyze. Neither a documentary or so often a honest linear accounting of events, these types of films are a type of Cliff’s Notes version of history. This is even more prickly with music biopics because no one has a lower tolerance for bullshit and rose-colored glasses than a die-hard fan of a band or artist. In the case of Queen and Bohemian Rhapsody, the fact that the film got made at all after development hell, Sasha Baron Cohen quitting the project, director Bryan Singer being fired towards the end of production, Dexter Fletcher coming on to finish it up and more. Still, you have to tip the hat for the job 20th Century Fox did pulling this together and getting the film out into theaters. And the theater is where you should see this film because it is a spectacle and your cell phone or your living room can’t contain it. Continue reading

Mall – Directed by Joe Hahn

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The thought of Linkin Park turntablist Joe Hahn’s directorial debut to be a story based on author/actor Eric Bogosian’s 2000 based book of the same name, Mall. Forget about whatever thoughts you may have of his band or his music – this film is quite impressive and gives viewers quite the ride within this quasi-psychological thriller.

The story draws is formatted somewhat like Crash, where it is centered around five strangers and how their erratic lives overlaps. Malcom (played by James Frecheville of Animal Kingdom fame) is a Crystal Meth ridden, ready to snap guy who is equipped with a bag full of weapons and self-made bombs, and is on a vendetta to wage war on the world, and his destination is the local mall and the unsuspecting shoppers there.

The narrator of the film is Jeff, a pot-smoking, day dreaming, social outcast teenager (played by Cameron Monaghan of Showtime’s Shameless TV show) is wandering around the mall with his so-called friends and attracting trouble by the mall police. He is fascinated by the Hernan Hesse’s 1927 novel Steppenwolf and liked to recite passages from it as he wanders around the mall.

Under peer pressure by his friends and to impress the girl he likes, Adelle (India Menuez), he drops Ecstasy and the effects of the drug rages while the shootings were happening. The way Jeff’s inner conflicts was portrayed in the film shows created quite the demonic roller coaster range of emotions he was dealing with.

Danny (played by Vincent D’Onofrio, who also co-produced the film) is depressed pervert, who is wandering around the mall, and ironically is caught peeping on Donny (played by Gina Gershon), a regretful housewife who is seeking personal thrills while she is out and about. Danny gets arrested and cuffed in the back of a squad car, until the arresting officer (Ron Yuan) gets shot by Mal by flying bullets from above, as he was about to let free and served a court summons. Danny survives but deals with the guilt of being a pervert by Jeff’s friends, and especially by Adelle, who takes advantage of him in the back of his car, in a sadistic fashion, while he is struggling with what he had done.

As Mal enters the mall, he crosses paths with Michel (Gbenga Akinnagbe), a mall security cop who had a past as a bully and later changed by honoring non-violence to his late wife. He sees Mal after he confronts his ex-boss Barry, a tuxedo store owner with whom he blames for his life spiraling out of whack. Their interaction throughout the movie plays a key part, including how Michel’s inner conflicts about how he dealt with confronting Mal, when the police were trailing him.

Hahn and co-vocalist Mike Shinoda’s original competitions are featured in the film, which flow well with the fast pace of the story. The story itself is somewhat of a social commentary in sorts, from what a shopping mall represents to society and the variety of people who frequent them. Plus with the rash of similar incidents like what was portrayed in this story tells a sad story of the societal ills in today’s times.

 

 

Mall film on Facebook

Joe Hahn on Facebook

 

REI NISHIMOTO

Lamb of God- As The Palaces Burn (film)

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Music is the only reason why I’m not prison (laughs) or dead, you know? I’m a dude who came from a little redneck town, and I didn’t fit in. It was horrible. Music definitely got me through it.” ~ D. Randall Blythe

 

In the opening minutes the documentary film As The Palaces Burn, Randy Blythe’s harmless musing about the course of his life was strangely prophetic. The music that got Randy through the toughest part of his young life and certainly brought him fame and glory as an adult, almost certainly cost him his freedom. Originally intended to be a look at Lamb of God fans around the world and their connection to the music, the band was turned upside-down by Randy’s June 2012 arrest and imprisonment in the Czech Republic, for the death of a fan in 2010 that the band was unaware of. As unlikely as this turn of events was for one of the biggest bands in metal, the film is an eye-opening account into the events that unfolded from the case, Randy’s personal struggles, the effect this had on the band both from the trial, and beyond.

 

 

Directed by Don Argott (Last Days Here) and produced by his 9.14 Pictures, the film first sees the band at the start of the Resolution (Epic) album cycle a touched on the last few years of the band, and the changes brought about by Randy’s (at the time) new-found sobriety. Although certainly not alone in the partying mode, Randy’s antics when drunk, seen many times in the past in the bands DVD’s, was singled out as a derisive force. On the flip side since undergoing a change in life due to sobriety, everyone one around the band marveled at the shift in his personality. Randy himself gave a confessional account of nearly having a nervous breakdown and not knowing how to deal with a sober life, until overtime he learned to cope and live his life freely. If the film stopped right there, it would still be a surprising, candid film, that few bands, metal or not, have ever made.

Early in the film the the focus was on Oscar from Columbia and Pratika from India, and the ways they connected to he bands music and a little look into the life of each fan at a LoG concert. Then the film shifts radically from Randy’s arrest at the airport in Prague, and his following imprisonment and eventual release. Band members like Mark Morton. Willie Adler, and Chris Adler talk at length about growing together, but often being at odds despite the common goals they share. Still, nothing will prepare you for seeing the band greet Randy at the the airport in Richmond, Virginia following his release from prison. It is a tear-inducing moment of anxiety and relief seen on screen by the band, and for the viewer. At the same time, some of the grief they share only intensifies throughout Randy’s voluntary return to Prague to stand trial for manslaughter. Through it all Randy was humble, and deeply stricken by the pain of the death of a fan of his, for the victim’s family, as well as himself, even though he was innocent. He still carries a heavy burden that has changed his life, even with the positive outcome of the trial.

 

The film’s access inside the proceedings and preparations with Blythe’s team of lawyers and the courtroom is a revealing look at legal systems abroad, and for those who deride the American system of justice, I’d say we have it pretty good here. Although Randy was exonerated of all the charges, the fact remains that Daniel Nosek, a 19-year-old fan of the band died following a Lamb of God show, and his family must cope with the loss somehow for the rest of their life. No matter how much you support the band, the film goes to great length to express the sorrow at the loss of life by this young man, and their hope is that Daniel is not forgotten through all of this.

Fans will come away from watching this film with a lot of mixed emotions about the band. To a man, the entire organization around LoG were all very supportive of their front man through his ordeal. However, the band is clearly far from close friends anymore. Certainly each member, and Randy, had to reconcile the possible loss of their careers and livelihood from the case had Randy been convicted and served any length of prison sentence. It is of note that while the film is clearly sympathetic to the plight of the singer and his band, it pulls no punches of the realty of a group of guys who have always have an uneasy alliance as friends, sober or not. Like most bands of their stature, there is a lot less of a brotherhood than the fans may want to believe. As LoG approaches middle age and veteran act status, they have grown up, and also grown apart with expanding families and other interests in their life trumping the chaos and mayhem of the killing road of metal music.

 

As The Palaces Burn is a film unlike any other, about a unique band who went through an experience that hopefully, never happens again. It’s a great film with some amazing cinematography and editing. Argott proves again to be a masterful story teller and the many emotional moments in the film are augmented by Mark Morton’s sparse score, full of his interesting guitar work. Those seeing the theatrical version will see a special  Q & A the band did with Eddie Trunk about the film.

9/10

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Lamb of God on Facebook

Keith (Keefy) Chachkes

Metallica – Through The Never

MV5BMjQwNjk5MTk4Ml5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNTgwNDA5OQ@@._V1_SY317_CR0,0,214,317_The common view of Metallica’s 3D IMAX movie seems to be tainted by misconceptions. Maybe in the attempt to avoid giving spoilers, or simply due to fans’ uncertainty towards the band following the, um, misguided ‘Lulu’ album, the message seems to have been lost.

See, Through The Never is being marketed as a movie about lead character Trip (the clue is, perhaps, in the name…), played by(Chronicle) and his, well, trip through the never on an errand for the band. But the storyline and movie part serves only as an extended promo video would, cleverly linking in events to the songs being played on stage.

Almost as if Trip is watching the gig, and the anarchic events are playing out in his head like some kind of hallucination…

But what Through The Never actually is, is Metallica proving without a shadow of a doubt that they can lay a genuine claim to being the greatest metal band of them all and an essential live act.

After the obligatory cringey “Metullz!” first 3 minutes, Through The Never gets down to business when the single greatest intro track, ‘Ecstasy of Gold’ pricks those neck hairs. The band prepare to, and then take, the stage, ripping into a feisty ‘Creeping Death’. ‘For Whom The Bell Tolls’ follows, sounding as vibrant and classic as at any time during their career, aided by a simply monstrous and superbly captured live sound, before a breakneck ‘Fuel’ leads us back to Trip and his mission.

With a set focussing on their 80’s beasts, a venomous jackhammer version of ‘Ride The Lightning’ and the epic juggernaut of sinewy riffing that is ‘…And Justice For All’ are the standout tracks. As you’d expect, the concert footage is expertly shot, showcasing a spectacular stageshow of descending coffins, pyros, a giant electric chair getting zapped by lightning, pyros, a sea of crosses arising from the floor during a momentous ‘Master of Puppets’, pyros, Doris being rebuilt and destroyed again, pyros, video accompaniments and other tributes to stage shows past (flaming roadies, collapsing lighting rigs and a “garage” version of ‘Hit The Lights’) all capped by a magical version of ‘Orion’ during the end credits.

Old dogs with new, very visually impressive, tricks, Through The Never is a must-see that will reinvigorate your forgotten love for the very best. I just wish it was longer.

9/10

Steve Tovey