Thursday, May 14, 2015

Cobain Remembered Expansively/Expensively

Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck (2015) - Morgen
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It's been more than 20 years since the death of Kurt Cobain. Crazy. And here I thought Montage of Heck is too soon. Then again, I remember watching the unwatchable doc called Kurt & Courtney where its director interjected every five minutes, "The song I just described here I can't play because Courtney Love people didn't grant me the rights to it." With an unprecedented access (with blessing of Love and everyone else), Brett Morgen paints almost a complete picture of the life of Kurt Cobain. Like many others and being in Seattle around the time when grunge happened, I too, took to the music. It wasn't the thrift shop flannels or sulking teen angst but Cobain's tortured voice that stood out among the rest and made an impression on me. Where were you the moment you heard the news that Cobain passed on? I was in college in Boston at that time. Many of us are bummed for many months.

With audio tapes, home movies, drawings, journals and beautifully animated sequences, Morgen charts mostly familiar territories - loner kid from broken home, unloved and angry, grows up to be anti-social punk rocker who couldn't handle his sudden stardom. But it's done so beautifully. His drawings come alive, and his agonized writings get accentuated. And I find the faults in its beauty. Nothing can be as dramatic as the life Cobain led and how he exited, for sure. But the slick filmmaking plays up to that with dimmed lighting and introspective framing. The whole thing feels like the director fell on a pile of money to make a documentary about the grungiest musician ever lived.

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