Worth A Look: 21.31%
Pretty Bad: 4.92%
Total Crap: 4.92%
5 reviews, 31 user ratings
|Metallica: Some Kind of Monster
by Beth Gilligan
Upon first hearing about the documentary depicting the heavy metal band Metallica in therapy, it was difficult not to imagine what their discussions might entail. The first thought that popped into my mind was an exchange along the lines of, “It really hurt my feelings when you stole my can of Aqua Net.” As it turns out, times (not to mention hairstyles) have changed. While Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky’s new film, Metallica: Some Kind of Monster (2004), is not without its Spinal Tap moments, it is more interested in exploring a critical crossroads in the life of one of America’s biggest bands.Taking a page from the Maysles brothers (who, along with mentoring the film’s directors, are also the minds behind the 1970 cinema verité classic Gimme Shelter), Berlinger and Sinofsky set out to capture a specific moment in time for the band. While the lack of backstory can at times be frustrating for non-metalheads, it simultaneously prevents Some Kind of Monster from sliding into VH1: Behind the Music territory. Still, given the degree to which demons from the past continue to haunt the band, a more in-depth examination of the group’s history, especially the 1986 death of bassist Cliff Burton and band’s infamous battle against music file-sharing server Napster, might have been useful.
"Group therapy, heavy-metal style."
The main focus, however, is the mid-life/identity crisis Metallica is undergoing. Faced with the departure of bassist Jason Newsted, ongoing substance abuse problems, and the pressure of having to deliver a new album, the band’s three remaining members – vocalist/guitarist James Hetfield, drummer Lars Ulrich, and guitarist Kirk Hammett – decided to hire therapist/performance enhancement specialist Phil Towle to help them sift through their problems.
With cameras rolling, Hetfield, Ulrich, Hammett, and longtime producer Bob Rock sit down for some intense group therapy sessions, in which long dormant demons spring to life and frustrations – both personal and creative – come to a head. Shortly into the filming, Hetfield vanishes for over six months to enter rehab for alcoholism and other undisclosed addictions. The recording of the band’s album, which would later be dubbed St. Anger, is brought to a halt and Metallica’s future hangs in the air.
While Some Kind of Monster may be largely preoccupied with the band’s literal therapy sessions, it does not, however, neglect the role that music can play as an outlet for one’s problems. The film more or less alludes to this along the way, with one overt reference in the form of a moving speech by Hetfield to a group of California prisoners, in which he credits music as being the saving grace in his tumultuous childhood and adult life.
Surprisingly, Some Kind of Monster is less thorough in detailing the critical and fan reaction to St. Anger. Although the album initially rocketed to the top spot on the music charts, it was not greeted as being on par with some of the band’s previous efforts. Given the movie’s otherwise warts-and-all depiction of Metallica’s inner workings, this seems like a glaring omission.Still, the filmmakers make it clear from the beginning that their main interest is in the band’s transition from angry, young party animals to wealthy, middle-aged family men. To round out the picture, there are appearances by Ulrich’s eccentric father Torben, former band member Dave Mustaine, newly hired bassist Robert Trujillo, and Hetfield and Ulrich’s spouses and children. The film clocks in at two hours and twenty-one minutes, and by the end seems a bit overlong, but for the most part, what is onscreen makes for compelling viewing.
link directly to this review at https://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=8546&reviewer=379
originally posted: 04/04/05 06:39:41
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