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Tuesday, December 27, 2005


Metallica: Some Kind of Monster: Or, how to hate Lars Ulrich ten times more than you already do.

I don't think I need to mention there are spoilers because the movie is a documentary. Also folks, if anyone reading this is *not* a Metallica fan you can stop reading right now. Please, click on one of my Amazon links or search something in Google. But non-fans need not be bothered by this post.

I would say I'm pretty late to the Metallica-fan game. I only started really liking and listening to them in the early 90's. I think I'm about done, however, being that the last time I saw them I paid upwards of $70 per ticket and felt kind of "eh" after the show. But my husband and I wanted to check it out nonetheless.

The premise of the movie, um, excuse me, documentary, is to record the making of Metallica's St. Anger album. At first, it's an intriguing view into the music production business. Is that how they write music? Is that how they come up with the lyrics? It seems so stupid: A bunch of really rich rockers sitting around together writing on little scraps of paper. But then their personalities get in the way and it gets interesting.

The most amazing thing happens in this movie. The members of the group work with a therapist to deal with their bassist Jason leaving the band (loss) and learn how to segue into another era of music making millions after twenty plus years of togetherness. At first I was like "are you guys for real?" but then I began to believe it. During their therapy sessions I was first reminded of typical reality TV shows where folks vomit up their innermost feelings with a gleam in their eye. That was what watching Lars was like. Then I saw James, our intrepid lead singer, who was so obviously uncomfortable you could see it onscreen. And Kirk, the peaceable one, squirming on the sofa while nervously glancing at the other two. "Are they going to argue? Yes, oh crap, they are."

And then James goes to rehab and is gone for a year! Right in the middle of shooting! We have scenes of Lars and Kirk sitting around wondering "is he coming back? I don't know if he's coming back." I don't know if it's the music or the money that brings him back but of course he does. So now we have the newly sober James with a restricted work schedule being bitchy at the others. I had to agree with Lars: "what do you mean I can't listen to the music at 4:01pm? [after James has left for the day] " He points out that part of being a rock and roller is flaunting the rules, being a rebel and all. Even though Lars is a despicable little bastard he was right about that.

I really enjoyed watching them turn on their therapist. That hapless dude never saw it coming. Here he is, slaving for months with these self absorbed millionaires, only to be kicked to the curb like some slutty little groupie. The movie makers don't really show HOW he has helped bring the band back together. He makes a few canned therapist comments like "how does it feel to say these things about your father, Lars?" It comes across as embarrassing and stupid.

Somehow, thanks to Bob Rock as always, the band finishes the album. A very telling scene occurred at the prison where they shot the video for St. Anger. As an aside I saw the premier of the video back when it came out and it was kind of raw. This did not cover the fact that the song sucks. But anyway there is James and he's standing on stage addressing a group of very scary looking convicts and he's shaking! I mean really crapping in his pants kind of scared! I even exclaimed as much to my husband who was not impressed. But I found that his blatant fear made him seem so human to me. That he could be so rich and famous but be reduced at the same time.

There was a funny scene of Lars having a session with Dave Mustaine who CLEARLY has issues with the way he was booted from the band early on. I really think poor Dave really needs to get over it and move on. But I cracked up when he revealed that people see him on the street and yell "Metallica!" taunting him openly. That's the best.

I'm so glad that we Metallica fans can breathe a huge sigh of relief that the band will go on. Lars can continue being smarmy, James badass, Kirk peaceful and their new bassist, whatshisname Trujillo, pysched to be alive and working in the band. Speaking of Trujillo you can see their effort to avoid what they did to Jason, which was to treat him like the red-headed stepchild for 14 years. That was really rude. But, now that I've seen this movie, I know it's because of James' commitment issues and Lars' I-don't-feel-close-enough-to-James issues. I'm not a big fan of Trujillo. I can see he's really talented but I don't dig his braids or the way he jumps around onstage. It's just me.



1 comment:

Chris said...

I was an oldschool Metallica fan. I learned about them in 1986, back when the heaviest thing I was listening to was Van Halen (Unchainnnnnnned! Yeah you hit the ground runnin'...). I followed them fairly religiously until whatever came after the black album (it really has slipped my mind).

So, watching Some Kind of Monster was an odd feeling. Here I was, a FORMER fan, watching this and wanting to check in.

I hated Lars. The feeling didn't change from this. I appreciated James. After SKOM, I thought, "softy," but only in that dysfunctional, "keep a brutha down" way. I love Robert Trujillo as the new guy, especially because he comes from Suicidal Tendencies and other Mike Muir projects.

But the net add was: I actually went out and bought St. Anger, and I really liked it. All but 3 songs. It had HUGE rotation in my car for months. And now?

I am back to, eh.

So, Metallica got $20 from me they otherwise wouldn't. Multiply it out. Was it worth it?