Monday, 13 April 2015

Week 15: Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck

Director: Brett Morgen
Writer: Brett Morgen
Seen: Friday the 10th of April
Venue: IMC Galway
Snacks: Too busy to get any
Mood: Nostalgic  

Week 15 of this blog and it’s a week of firsts, the first week that we witnessed such lengthy (very lengthy) queues for a film, and also it is the first review of a documentary. Documentaries visit the big screen probably less than any other genre so as someone who watches a lot of docs on the small screen I was delighted to hear this one was coming to Galway, albeit for one night only.

The doc in question is the much anticipated, immersive and impressively made Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, directed by documentarian Brett Morgen. I have seen The Kid Stays in the Picture (2002) which is a brilliant insight into the lifestyle of the once maverick producer Bob Evans who was behind classics like The Godfather (1972) and Chinatown (1974), and I will be seeking out other films by Morgen after this. 

It was a strange night at the IMC in Galway as the foyer of the cinema resembled more the entrance to a rock concert than that of a cinema. It was packed with a wide demographic of grungy types, from the 30 somethings (we were well represented) who can remember when Nevermind first came out. To the teenagers who wore their Nirvana t-shirts proudly and with a strut, for the one night screening event. Why the IMC only had the doc for one night I don’t know because obviously, judging by the substantial crowd, there was an appetite to see this film. Nevertheless, it was inspiring to see such a large crowd and wide age range. The crowds also illustrated the power and longevity of the music that Kurt Cobain created in his short life.

Montage of Heck is an extremely well-crafted film that concentrates on the life rather than music of Kurt Cobain. After a challenged childhood Kurt soon looked to his creative side mainly music to help escape the problems of a detached teenager in “middle America”. Rapidly a talent would emerge helping him form one of the biggest bands of the 20th century. Kurt certainly started off pursuing fame and influence equally he certainly did not expect to reach the heights Nirvana went on to reach. He grew increasingly uncomfortable with all the baggage that came with such worldwide fame, reinforcing the old saying “be careful what you wish for”.

This film kept me engaged from the very first frame. Talking heads are limited instead there is animation and archival footage of Cobain’s life on and off stage especially some interesting footage with his wife Courtney Love and daughter Francis Bean. The images are backed up by a play list of Nirvana tracks which made me both nostalgic and exhilarated and the sound amplified by the cinema system was to great effect, so if you see this at home, play it loud!

I can’t say enough good things about this engrossing film, but if I were to be critical of anything it would be that the absence of Dave Grohl which was both apparent and suspicious. The filmmaker has stated that he interviewed Grohl but the footage couldn’t be used because he hadn’t time to edit it (hmmmm…ok).  It goes without saying that for Nirvana fans, Montage of Heck is a must see, but even for those who aren’t this brilliantly made documentary will keep you entertained and engrossed for its duration.

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