Sunday, 7 September 2008

Another Kind Of Monster

The other night Roadhawk rocked over to my place armed with booze and Some Kind of Monster. The former was Southern Comfort and Schnapps, and the latter was a DVD of the 2004 Metallica documentary, recently snapped up for a song from Mr Morrison's cavernous bargain bins.

Now we'd both heard about this flick - and what we'd heard was this "it's kinda like Spinal Tap come to life". And to be fair, that's what we got. But like Marty DeBergi, we got alot more. A whole lot more.

Although there are some very funny scenes in the film, on the whole these are just a side order to the main course. What the movie actually delivers is a 'warts and all' picture into the life and times of one of the world's biggest rock bands. Covering the difficult circumstances surrounding the recording of the 'St Anger' LP, Some Kind of Monster unflinchingly charts the arguments and tensions of a band close to collapse. As Roadhawk observed afterwards, although some of this could be viewed as comedy in the main the situations are actually too serious to be really funny. For example some of the bickering taken in insolation would play like Tap, in the context of the film you see them as genuine arguments between real human beings.

Now that isn't to say that there isn't humour in the film. Lars Ulrich is a very funny man, a veritable king of dead pan delivery, and new bassist Ron Trujillio does an uncanny impersonation of Ozzy Osbourne. And when James Hetfield returns from rehab sporting a sensible beard and glasses, he did remind me of Red Dwarf's Rimmer in the episode 'Polymorph' after he's had all the anger sucked out of him.

But Metallica don't come across as buffoons in the St Hubbins/Tufnel/Smalls mold. And inspite of all the serious interpersonal chaos, they don't come off as pompous, self indulgent bloated rockstars either. Something of an albatross around the band's neck is the infamous Napster controversy, which made alot of music fans see them as the above. However Some Kind of Monster addresses this very frankly, and without being an exercise in white washing, if you watch this film you will understand how and why this little storm kicked off and, you will even understand the band's reasons for kicking it all off.

It definitely isn't a real life Spinal Tap; if there is a movie comparison to be made then Some Kind of Monster is the Lord of the Rings of rockumentaries. The DVD extras are very much Rings style in length and depth. The deleted scenes alone add almost a whole second movie.

Whether you are a Metallica fan or not, this is a fascinating insight into the workings of a rock band. And if like me, you aren't a big fan of the band, after watching this revealing film there's a good chance you will be. I'm off now to listen to 'Master of Puppets'...

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