Friday, February 18, 2005

It's time to do the video review thing!

‘Metallica: Some Kind of Monster’
I don’t dislike Metallica, but neither am I a huge fan of the venerable heavy-metal band, who have sold nearly 100 million records in their 20-year-plus career.
Yet for 2 1/2 hours, I was steadily fascinated to learn all about their lives.
The warts-and-all documentary “Metallica: Some Kind of Monster” draws you in, with its humane, focused and nonjudgmental look at the world of Metallica.
What’s it like to be a pounding headbanger at age 40-something, still knocking out heavy riffs but balancing being a rocker with your family, as well as leading a multimillion-dollar corporation?
Directors Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky probably didn’t realize what they were getting into when they decided to film a documentary about Metallica in 2001, as they started sessions for their “St. Anger” album.
What they got was a band on the edge of breaking up and a movie that stretches over two years. Longtime bassist Jason Newsted has just been kicked out as the movie begins, and the remaining trio can barely stand each other.
In fact, they’ve even retained their own $40,000-a-month staff psychologist to hold weekly group therapy sessions.
But then lead singer/guitarist James Hetfield goes into rehab, leaving drummer Lars Ulrich and guitarist Kirk Hammett reeling and the band’s entire future in doubt. They wonder if they’re even still relevant now that they don’t have to struggle for fame.
It’s all brutally honest, often funny and as good as the best TV reality show — it’s “Metallica: The Real World.” The boys of Metallica treat their home of San Francisco as their own personal playground, yet despite their riches they’re not entirely happy.
Heavy metal is a music based in anger, and we find the band trying to channel into that without being the wild, callous men of their youth. You can feel them struggling to incorporate touchy-feely therapy-speak into their hard-rockin’ lives, like trying to learn a new language.
The movie goes on too long — at nearly 2 1/2 hours, it could’ve used a good half-hour of trimming and focus.
Yet most of it remains fascinating material, as the band comes across as likable if screwed up, and we’re the voyeurs enjoying it all.
The best music documentaries interest you whether or not you’re a fan of the band, and “Some Kind of Monster” definitely does that.
***1/2 of four

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