Actually made it out to the Anjelika for the USA film fest last night and caught Metallica: Some Kind of Monster. It might be familiar to some of you: a chronicle about the last 3 or so years of THE BAND, their post Napster backlash, Newsted's departure, and most importantly the fallen metal masters' psychiatric rehabilitation (and James Hetfield's too). Yes, the boys actually hired a band shrink to help them come to terms with their failing "family."
After watching this endless monument to therapeutic excess and willful maturity (I mean really, THIS is Metallica? I imagine U2 would be more of a threat in a bar brawl, but then they're at least Irish), I was left with a bit of empathy and understanding and a more than a modicum of "aww, QUIT YR BITCHIN' ALREADY!" I suppose it's only fair, after their pathetic MTV-sanctioned ascendancy to THE TOP over the last decade, and of course the Napster backfire, to give the boys a chance to state their cases, to say "hey...we're *expletive* people too!" And it's true, they are. Lars seems fairly levelheaded in a weasely, manipulative way. Listening to him discuss his priceless collection of modern art is worth the price of admission. James is the bullhead--someone we all know--stubborn to the core, but that core is obviously bursting with sticky emotions and abandonment issues. And given his openness about himself and his past, it's possible to understand his tyrannical nature. In these 120 some-odd minutes, he comes off more like a stoic teddy bear, willing to discuss things on a trusting level, and to listen too *cue violin strings*. With Lars though, one gets the sense more of a guy waiting for his chance to speak when he should be listening...but he listens some too. Dr. Phil (not that one), their smarmy hired hand who earns 40k a month to be on call at all times, definitely has an impact. In fact before it's over, he's in the studio, making lyric suggestions and all else. And my God they're totally dependent on the little balding cockroach, who entertains his own dreams of relocating the fam to sunny San Fran and becoming Metallica's full time emotional broker--man what a freak!
Jason Newsted comes out relatively unscathed, and even says of the whole psychiatric intervention, "fuckin' lame." Good for you, J. I'm not saying I think it was a mistake on their part to bring the guy in, merely a fine example of the excesses we go to in this self-help modern age to just, like, make it all better. Let's see...what else: Kirk Hammett seems like a real awe shucks sweety (he traded in his dope for a surfboard) and rancher. Dave Mustaine is a hopeless sad sack dimwit stuck in the past. He's actually invited to the group session, so Lars can come to terms with old demons, and mannnn...I can't imagine someone who actually had some "success" at various times on pop radio and such to take this kind of self-loathing, grim perspective on himself and his apparent failure--*delivered in near sobs, "I mean...I'm known as the guy who ruined Metallica!"* What??? Didn't they get a lot FUCKIN' BETTER after you left, Dave? Sure, he missed out on Metallica's golden age in the late 80s, but he got to ride that wave all the same. Did he really wanna be around for the last 5-10 years? Did he really still think Metallica was number one? Maybe if success is measured in record sales...but here in the womb, it ain't.
Enjoyed the bass tryouts, loved Lars' father (who's apparently Gandalf), dug Bob Rock as 5th and then 4th member. Enjoyed the look on Rock's face when Hetfield basically writes him off as a business expense in a letter written from rehab. This is real stuff...but is this movie going to acquit our one time heroes of more recent infractions? Hardly...I suppose the fans will chew it up, gag on the more jagged morsels, and ultimately feel some kind of vindication at seeing their boys "lay it all on the line," because after all the mighty ST. ANGER is the end result, and apparently it's good or something. The rest of us will at least be entertained a lot of the way. If you're my age (roughly 30), and you're breathing, you probably went through a Metallica phase at some point in your life, and for good reason. Master of Puppets--just typing it gives me the goody good shivers--is definitely some kind of monster. Ultimately, this movie--this struggle--becomes less about the band, and more about these people, and how they've resolved the mighty M (the band) with the wee m (the family) and forged onward against all odds. It could be a metaphor for America, but I don't think that's really a good thing. After all, we're mostly a nation of whiners.