"I'm spoiled from the past," says Arthur 'Killer' Kane, original bass player for glam punk legends the New York Dolls and down-at-heel subject of Mormon filmmaker Greg Whiteley's workmanlike portrait doc. Too Much Too Soon, the title of the Dolls' second album, is an apt description of Kane's life in rock and roll. Not enough in far too long would best describe his present feelings, as he takes the bus to a church job that supplements his social security cheques.
In a band characterised by cartoonish flamboyance, beautifully described by the hamming of puckish singer David Johansen, Arthur Kane was the quiet one. Like the other Dolls, he straddled the gender line with some outrageous outfits, but his rigid persona earned the nickname The Statue. At fifty-something, the only clues to the shirt- and tie-wearing Kane's rock incarnation is a cracked, glottal voice and vacant look unnervingly reminiscent of Eugene Levy's acid casualty Mickey in A Mighty Wind.
"DOLLS FANS SHOULD STEEL FOR THIS DISAPPOINTMENT"
Whiteley's camera follows Kane to London, to a Dolls reunion gig at the 2004 Meltdown Festival. It soon becomes clear that, despite his born-again Mormonism and bitterness towards the enduringly successful Johansen, Arthur Kane has only ever wanted to turn the clock back to 1973. It's touching to see him to do just that, even for a single night. Unfortunately, Whiteley's feel for his subject far exceeds his passion for the music, best illustrated by a frankly weird recap of the climactic reunion gig set to choral church music. Dolls fans should steel for this disappointment, but also stick around for a treat during the credits.