Friday, April 29, 2005

MOVIES: Can you 'DiG' it?

Have you entered my Jay's Days Giveaway contest? Tomorrow is the deadline, and I'll announce winners tomorrow evening sometime. Here's the scoop! This is the last plea I'll make for entries, so come on aboard!

Anyway, here's a Thursday Video Review of a great new documentary -- ‘DiG!’

Want to be a rock ‘n’ roll star? After seeing the new documentary “DiG!”, you might change your mind.

Raw, uncensored and shocking, it ranks up there with the best rock ‘n’ roll documentaries I’ve ever seen.

“DiG!” focuses on seven years of friendship and rivalry between two small-scale, up-and-coming alternative pop/rock bands, Portland-based The Dandy Warhols and The Brian Jonestown Massacre.

The Dandies, led by the mellow Courtney Taylor, are amiable, professional and moderately successful (they’re huge in Europe). The Massacre, masterminded by mercurial Anton Newcombe, are a fluid mess, constantly sabotaging any chance at success with their terrible behavior. Taylor and Newcombe start out as friends, but as the Dandy Warhols rise and the Massacre flames out, anger and jealousy come to the fore.

For people who love reality TV shows, this is “Rock Star: The Real World.” It’s the messy side of rock — long nights, endless road trips to lousy clubs and uninterested audiences, scraping along for success. Frankly, it doesn’t feel like a lot of fun to live this life, but it’s a blast to watch.

Director Ondi Timoner achieved amazing access to the bands, shooting more than 1,500 hours of footage from 1995-2003. She captures incredibly unguarded moments, such as Newcombe assaulting members of the audience or even his own band during concerts, a police bust in Georgia, fights, break-ups and partying galore.

And then there’s Anton Newcombe. A self-proclaimed “musical genius,” Newcombe, frankly, comes off as a total sociopath. He dominates the film, ranting about the “revolution” his mildly appealing rock is supposed to kick off, treating everyone around him terribly, succumbing to drug addiction, driving away his bandmates and eventually ending up a bloated, raving loner. And you can’t take your eyes off him.

What’s missing from “DiG!” is more exploration of the creative side of music — you get the passion these guys have for rock, but you’re left wondering if they really have any talent.

Newcombe’s missionary fire is the engine that drives “DiG,” a cautionary tale of where rock stardom dreams can lead. Watching people behave so badly has rarely been so entertaining.
***1/2 of four

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