There have been
many documentaries abut various musical artists and musical groups. And the
films usually follow a rather formulaic pattern: interviews with past and present
members of the band, family and friends; struggles in the early days, success,
tragedies with alcohol and/or drugs, and finally some insights into fame, some
hard-fought awareness, and success again. While the story IS familiar, this
does not do justice to director AJ Schnack's imaginative Kurt Cobain: About a Son.
It interweaves music by other groups with
selections from over 25 hours of Cobain's own commentary about his life.
Journalist Michael Azerrad recorded the audio from December 1992 through April
"Ë92 for his book Come As You Are: The
Story of Nirvana. Cobain's chronologically organized commentary touches on
his happiness until eight years old when his mother's divorce had a profound
impact on him, his being a geek in high school, stomach pain, seclusion, drugs and
his thoughts of suicide. Knowing he ended his life in April 1994 at 27 years of
age adds impact.
The audio excerpts and music
accompany contemporary shots from Cobain's three important Washington
state locations: Aberdeen, Olympia,
and Seattle. We
see trucks and railroad cars heavy with logs, individuals of all ages facing
the camera, roads, businesses, and lovely, haunting scenes of nature. These are
presented with superimpositions, lots of tracking shots down streets, fades to
black, a smattering of animation, some slow motion and some rapid fire edits.
Above all, what distinguishes Kurt
Cobain: About a Son is Cobain's honesty about his wanting to fit in, his
anger, conflicts, and, of course, the temporary salvation of punk rock, playing
the guitar, and Nirvana. I didn't sit down to watch Kurt Cobain: About a Son with enthusiasm, thinking this would be
another formulaic documentary. It is not, and its impressionistic visuals
invite listening to and thinking about Cobain's observations about himself and
ours about him. Those who want a Nirvana performance documentary will not
embrace it. Those who want surprises or secrets won't find them here either.
But Kurt Cobain: About a Son has a
deceptively casual, thought-provoking appeal. At Landmark's Tivoli Theatre
through November 8th only.
Wed November 26
Karate Bikini is an eight piece ensemble who's members hail from St. Louis and the metro area. They are a large band with a large sound. Their latest album A Simpler Sugar is full of upbeat pop songs,…
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