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The Culture Show: Screening Room

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Mark Kermode | 15:00 UK time, Thursday, 30 July 2009

Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo are in front of an audience once again to debate the merits of specific movie genres in their Screening Room. This time it is the turn of rock docs. Movies such as Gimme Shelter, Rattle And Hum and Anvil are given the Mayo and Kermode once-over.

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  • Comment number 1.

    You should watch DiG! about the Brian Jonestown Massacre and the Dandy Warhols to see that there are still rock documentaries which aren't just promotional videos and have been released despite the bad image they give of the band.

  • Comment number 2.

    ah i see in this version of the video (not the one on tv) its mentioned.... sorry

  • Comment number 3.

    I still can't get over the fact that the BBC website has choosen "eleven" as its max volume for streaming videos. It still makes me smile everytime I go to change it.

  • Comment number 4.

    Regarding the 'death' of the rock-u-mentary(sic), would Mark care to comment on Hated, the documentary of transgressive punk singer GG Allin?

  • Comment number 5.

    That clip you showed of Rattle & Hum is probably the most cringe worthy art of the film, what the hell is Bono wittering on about anyway??? I have to agree that Rattle & Hum is basically a big advert, but it contains some pretty amazing live versions of U2 songs, Bullet the Blue, With or Without You, are simply class on this. But yes, it doesnt really hold any merit, in my eyes I see it as a live video, with the band nobbing about inbetween the songs.

    I need to watch Gimme Shelter, not see this as yet!

  • Comment number 6.

    I'd be interested to hear the thoughts on "Some Kind Of Monster" in which Metallica do not come across very well at all, at times whiny, arrogant, petty and disfunctional, yet they allowed all of this to go out.

    I belive the two guys who shot the documentary were surprised themselves (and stated in subsequent interviews) that they were shocked with the freedom they had in the final cut.

    This seems closer to the "warts and all" type which is discussed as dying in the blog, yet this was fairly recent. I personally enjoyed the film as it was a rare view at the human side of rock stars.

  • Comment number 7.

    i'm surprised that dr. k agreed so readily with the comment about the end of the rock doc, as i distinctly remember him raving about 'the devil and daniel johnston' (and rightly so), where, although he does come off as an endeering character, it makes no attempt to gloss over the horrible things that daniel johnston's illness caused him to do.

  • Comment number 8.

    I find it strange how Mark says that a rock documentary as unflattering as 'Gimme Shelter' can in no way be made in this day in age. Well, in this 7 minute clip, you already mentioned 'Anvil! The Story of Anvil!' and 'Some Kind of Monster' - two documentaries that don't really do anything to promote the band made within the last 5 years or so.

    In the day of information, I'd imagine we'd get even more films about music with a vast array of agendas.

  • Comment number 9.

    The warts and all rock doc is only dead for soulless posturing bores who feel they have an image to protect. Any artist worth your time is quite willing let themselves be portrayed as:
    Miserable- Radiohead- meeting people is easy
    Scary- Scott walker: 30 century man
    or being severely troubled: The devil and daniel johnston
    Great films happen when you can relate to the people on screen and rock docs are no exception

  • Comment number 10.

    Looking at 'Metallica; Some Kind Of Monster' again recently, I feel certain that Chuck Lorre must have studied the speech patterns and mannerisms of Lars Ulrich to inspire the character of the nitpicking geek Sheldon in 'Big Bang Theory'!

  • Comment number 11.

    Dear Dr. Mark, I believe I've found a chink in your case against 'Rattle & Hum': whilst I totally agree that 90% of the film is just showing the band flouncing and fauncing across the stage, there is 1 moment in the film when this corporate mask suddenly slips, and that is when they play 'Sunday Bloody Sunday' in Denver.

    By some horrible irony, the day they played the song on 11th November 1987 was also the day of the Enniskillen Remembrance Day bombing back in Northern Ireland, where a dozen people including old war veterans were killed by a planted IRA bomb.

    During the song in the film, there follows an instrumental break where Bono, apparently completely unrehearsed, lets rip a furious tirade against the horrors of the Northern Ireland Troubles and rages against 'Irish-Americans coming up to him and talking about the Revolution.'

    Whilst I feel slightly queasy when Bono urges the crowd in a chant of 'No More' against violence, I think this scene links in with what you were saying about 'Gimme Shelter': just as Altamont captured the end of the Hippy Era, so I feel that Sunday Bloody Sunday epitomises (to my mind at least) a shift in public consciousness against the violence in Ireland. Certainly after Enniskillen the IRA lost a lot of its support overnight, one of the most pivotal moments in recent Irish history, and I think 'Rattle and Hum', aside from being utterly nauseating and tacky, demonstrates that well.

  • Comment number 12.

    good call on the mention of meeting people is easy. i doubt if mark kermode has ever seen it as i think it's more just intended for fans, but while it's not a great film, i do like it for it's 'everything in the world of rock and roll is superficial and repetitive' slant. i also like it because it features an early version of one song from each radiohead album since it's release (how to disappear completely, life in a glasshouse, i will, and nude).

  • Comment number 13.

    'who the **** is pete doherty' also paints a distressing image of the musician in question.. also 'stalking pete doherty' is an interesting look at rock documentaries falling to pieces and obsession. i know they're not films released in the cinema but are definitely 'rock documentaries' that fall more to the 'gimme shelter' side of things rather than the big promotional music video. x

  • Comment number 14.

    I came here to mention how the devil and daniel johnston is a 'rock doc' that is definitely not a big corporate promo and really shows every aspect of the fascinating and quite messed up character that is daniel johnston, but I see someone got there before me.

    There was another film I wanted to mention and that is Heima, which follows the icelandic musicians Sigur Ros as they play in all manner of strange places around iceland. Although maybe not the most mainstream or exciting film it perfectly sums up the mood of the music. It's almost ambient in its lack of any real plot and just lets the music speak for itself over a backdrop of the vast epic setting of iceland. It might not be for everyone but I would stand by it as a 'rock doc' that has artistic merit that seems to have been made with real heart and isn't just a huge corporate ploy to make more money.

  • Comment number 15.

    i would say that heima, much like the flaming lips documentary 'the fearless freaks', is a rock doc that acts both as a promotional video AND has artistic merit. heima is one of the most beautiful films i've ever seen, and it does have a conservationist agenda as well as promoting the band.

  • Comment number 16.

    Just would like to 3rd the notion about Heima, a truely beautiful 'rock doc'. As much as i agree with the good doctor about Gimme Shelter for me personally nothing will ever beat The Last Waltz.

    Suprised no one has mentioned Let It Be, the music may not live up to the Beatles' other work but its interesting to see a documentary that was meant to be about the band making their next record, but ulitimately documents the start of the demise of the band.

    As a footnote to Heima, Screaming Masterpiece is an interesting (although slightly shallow) look at the icelandic music scene.

  • Comment number 17.

    wilco-'i am trying to break your heart' they end up sacking a band member and getting dropped from their record label and them getting a deal from a subsidary of the company that sacked them

    billy bragg/wilco-'man in the sand' billy bragg gets asked by woody guthrie 's family to supply music to lost lyric's of woody's

    slade-'in flames' slade play a fictitious band who hire a sleazy manager when their career takes off


    metallica-'some kind of monster'(don't particularly like their music but I thought they came out well in the end

    and of course 'this is spinal tap' whenever it's on tv no matter what i'm doing i'll sit down and watch it

  • Comment number 18.

    One that I forgot to mention alongside "Some Kind of Monster" is "Refused Are F*cking Dead". A documentary shot about Sweedish hardcore band Refused from 2006.

    Shot by the guitarist from the band several years after their break up it covers the time immediately before their split in 1998 and is a facinating look at a band falling out of love with music and each other. I doubt I would have watched it if I wasn't a fan of the band, but its such a wonderful piece, has anyone got an opinion who wasn't already familiar with the band?

  • Comment number 19.

    Just a little bit disappointed by the schools session today. I am more than a little surprised that your audience and yourselves managed to ignore films such as If and the St Trinian's catalogue (not the new one obviously) or perhaps even Good Bye Mr Chips. But High School Musical (a rework of Fame is it not?) Slightly left field; how about Unman, Wittering and Zygo?

    The section of the show is very good and deserves more time. The Arctic Monkeys seemed to get more and deserve less.

  • Comment number 20.

    When i see you live (Dodge Brothers) i am going to hurl antimode phrases at you for falling for Johnny Depp. That aside, i caught you on the radio a few nights ago and i was very impressed! (Couldn't be bothered finding a Dodge Brothers related blog entry, excuse me)

  • Comment number 21.

    I think my ears are burning. Not sure that I have said much pro or con JD. A fine actor in my view although I won't go near the PotC franchise after the first one. I havent seen all his movies by any means but I thought he was good in Finding Neverland and good enough in Public Enemies


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