6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
This IS This Is Spinal Tap!,
This review is from: Dig! [DVD] (DVD)
On paper it sounds simple enough. The Dandy Warhols and the Brian Jonestown Massacre are brought together by similar musical and aesthetic sensibilities in the mid nineties and are driven apart as the former find commercial success and the latter stagnate. The story is simple enough, but its characters, the two bands and their various patrons and hangers-on, are so ridiculous that the film approaches indie rock parody. From the ridiculously put-on conversation at the start of the film in which the bands profess and urgent desire to start a revolution now, man; to the record company goon who places the BJM's leader Anton Newcombe on a `higher moral plane' with Charles Manson, Hitler and Jesus; to the Dandy Warholette who claims some good karma is coming her way as it was she who kept the band supplied with cocaine during the hard times, there's no shortage of stupid people here - I could go on.
It soon becomes clear that the central figure of interest is Newcombe. The guy has musical talent for sure, but unfortunately not an original bone in his body. He makes the BJM, who are otherwise pretty decent people and musicians (with the exception of the gormless, tambourine `playing' Joel Gion), into a Sixties tribute band, embodying all of the worst aspects of that era: druggy materialism dressed up as spirituality, bad fashion and inane lingo. Newcombe inevitably screws up every opportunity made available to him through the wide circle of influential admirers he acquired by showing the `intriguing auteur' part of his personality whenever he lets his true `infantile twerp' self loose, and the so-called Bohemianism that the members both the BJM and the Dandy Warhols espouse turns out to be nothing but a vapid wasteland between forming a band and selling a million, in which the Dandys make a temporary stopover before superstardom and in which the BJM are forever mired.
The beauty of this film is that, although the filmakers are obviously fans of the music (I mean what other kind of person would follow these guys around for years without guarantee of reward), the film is unflinching in its exposure of the band's lives and the viewer is always free to make their own judgement. Also the film provides great insights into the iniquities of the record industry, the differences between the American and European music scenes, and into the death of originality in Indie music in the nineties as represented by these two groups of vapid hippie revivalists. So all in all a great movie. Dig?