Dir. Brett Morgen, USA, 2015, 2hr 12mins. Cert. 15.
Providing you have been a witness of the demise of innovation in music with its lost prophets Jeff Buckley, Tom Petty, Patty Smith, all reminders of the angst Garage bands of Americas wasted middle class promises, you will be aided to this scroll of devastation.
Banked is the music. Since Never Kurt Cobain choose his mix-tape after which this Brett Morgen named this long form documentary, for private consumption in the lead up to the composition of his own mental mixtape Neverland, it signaled intent if not direction. Never mind the Bullocks he scrolled. In the middle. Obscure local and lauded homies see the fillers radical and loudness overspill might liven a party on Wayne.
The opening of the film is instinctive at the heart of the machine. The filled stadium gig. Cemented as the like of festivals of summer, even the past lore of Reading Festival, over which the latter presence of his wife at the edge of deaths wormhole. Courtney Love laments at one point failure to fulfill a summers presence there. Brett takes us on stage with a mock bewigged KC gets into the stage prop wheelchair while the crew take him to centre mike.
Rumours of his demise are therefore both qualified and expanded.
Party on Wayne again. A familiar song then he collapses.
100,000 or so disappointed and embroiled in his familiar exposure and posture egos fighting for supremacy.
Hard Rock and MTV
The commodity rock became was pervasive with Geffen/Sony Records thrusting the tours deals and churn of money with many punters buying up their identities simulacra. They had grown up on the same thing as Kurt and scribbled in the narrow feint notebooks ‘rock’ songs. Rent the cartoon brio gestural head monster of eating your neighbours pet tarantula or daughter for domestic sinful willfulness toreador reasons. Games are us letting down as their ‘Stagecraft’ or escapism sexist misogynist ‘Game of Thrones’ banter tamashanter. Brought from the Celtic isles by their forefathers. To be replicated centuries later in fantasy and Dark Hedges moons later for their consumption.
Brett Morgen taps into the family archive from the beginning to give this very short creative life an impact deserving of screening and hearing accounts of. The mumsnet tale of safe housekeeping and child rearing is how it began in hopefulness.
Aberdeen, Washington State was a logging Mill town where ‘all our kids just loved growing up.’ Wendy Cobain explains while relating her downhill breakdown to alcohol dependency. Donald Cobain was a proud Everyman a Buddy Holly like easy going man so neither was aware of the intervention of the onset of genetic collision which firstly had them quack visit.
Kurt was born into a loving environment with few wants not satiated. He had so much he was inclined to generosity and giving things back or recirculating his joy.
The world could not have been simpler.
Along came other kids into his family world though and motherly affection was drawn in to provide at least rational boundaries.
Intervention was sought when the hyper Kurt began acting out on siblings without warning and internalised rage. Quack saw the whites of his eyes flicker like a pinball machine and the creative forces were motoring alongside the destructive ones looking for bits of the same road.
Wendy went into a downhill mental health state and Donald could not handle and here Brett Morgen indulges in crap animation to tell a family story of destruction. The whole family have trials of dealing withe the now unhinged kid Kurt. Most times it is rejection. So persists pain and the director cuts in the appearances of nascent creative work while dropping in the Kurt sexual exploitation of loosing his virginity also a cartoon.
Sans judgement or analysis of any meaningful kind.
Kurt Cobain had awoke to a caldron of Mayhem. Less Heck as Montage but fuck this is mental.
Garage face the wall
The triumph leads to him becoming even further isolated with him facing the wall in the Garage ‘bandroom’ and along with Seattles finest. Did Bill gates ever doorstep the dude? And other MTVs bands ever feel so less in control less commodified?
Metallica and Lynyrd Skynyrd are headliners and fellow nineties successes. Novoselic even compares their Hard Rock credibility.
Lynyrd Skynyrd drummer to ’74 Robert Burns Jr. (64) died on Friday last when his vehicle left the road at midnight on a Carsonsville bend hitting post-box and tree in a single vehicle accident. His Florida band were from an earlier era but fed the road Kurt Cobain, drummer David Grohl, (who only makes the briefest of statements – usually for a media channel in this film) bassist Krist Novoselic travelled as they were masters of the American mindset before Nirvana ever went near trying to re-root the rock and roll formula. Gimme three. Sweet Home (hole?) Alabama, – don’t forget these were Jacksonville art types of Southern indulgent rock!. Then Free Bird.
Interspersed with the early years footage are indulgent, not entirely or wantonly KCs doing, analogy essays of animation and wordplay association which are innumerable and interminable.
Keep OUT the Langers as they say in Kork
The collection is famous in any case as are the analysis so why the Director bothers and does not stick to the new archive opened is testimony to an indulgence. All looking good for an Anton Corijn photo shoot. Pinning the tail on the donkey which is shown as a family home movie is more telling of the intervention.
(Kids – it’s easy to memorise where the adults put the poster up by the pins in the corner so drag your knuckles Frankie and go stick it!)
No one knows too much going into a film about, Billie Holliday, Duke Ellington, Oscar Peterson or their web of drug regression and repression but still get to respect and share the struggles they internalised up to a point of caring they are restored something less prurient and indulgent as a directors cut.
It is no where near the stratospheric realism the life despite its unreal narrative – they are frequently interviewed repeating answers to the inanity of its locality, to be the last word on a brief firefly of a life.
Novoselic constantly pick out for Kurt Cobain the insufferable. He shields often the media necessary and despised and the overreactions, any reactions, to most puerile ranting or fettle ring rage or jealousy are commonplace.
We see these as ‘representative’ but those knowing are aware through diaries of the over sensitivity Kurt Cobain carried and tried to quash with huge qua ties of commercially potent and well sourced narcotics he flailed in internal rage and written word, so much less capable due to the stage he had reached, than anything that may have recreated further as john Lennon or Bob Dylan epitomised for Rock and Art expression .
Conclusion ### 3
This is a difficult film to harness as it exposes as much of the Directors take on the history of a very brief life and gazes into it using unnecessary devices which themselves are a mixtape.
The boundary between the authors own and Kurt Cobain’s work is infuriatingly blurred and the consequences are not insignificant to reading the story of the man. Even those familiar with what is original work and what is a plain piece of inane animation can discern and make out which is which but the letters rising off the page is pathetic directorial bile.
Many photomontages are brilliant. The frames are beautiful at times and the rare home footage insightful but rare has context been so insipid.
Had he been in an era which was less consumerist? Suddenly the 27 years pick up and theories appear and I have seen enough to seek out the songs of pre-1988 say and forget with having continual regret we never heard a change or found a way to indulge this talent to the foremost directions which a less damaged conscious might have explored. Art is never without its extent of madness not overcome but in faith assured it is characteristically abundant and filled to overflow when painters, classicists, designers, dramatists expose those parameters know to mere attuned minds and senses.
Kurt Cobain was and will be a constant fixed part of that eras cosmos and through time may be acclaimed as new people learn through the likes of this small narrative film of the symbolic American Everyman.
9 April 2015
Opening at QFT Belfast on Friday 10 April 2015.
There will be a pre-screening talk by OU lecturer Marcus Smith
on Sunday 12 April 2015 @ 8.15pm.
Closes on Wednesday 15 April 2015 with Saturday and Sunday matinee performances and screenings
Then the conspiracy begins.