Metallica: Some Kind of Monster (USA, 2004)

poster-10446Directed by: Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky. I don’t know what took me so long to see this. I grew up loving Metallica and what could be more entertaining than watching a documentary film about Metallica having a mid-life crisis, hashing out their emotional issues with their therapist in front of a bunch of cameras? As I recently rediscovered, listening to their old stuff again, this always was a tremendously emotional band. Those lyrics! The entire center of all of that strong-man, masculine posturing and aggression and anger, it was always fueled by an inarticulate, pimple-faced 14-year-old, not entirely different from the pimple-faced 14-year-old James Hetfield we can see on the cover of Kill Em All back in 1983. The voice that carries those lyrics is the voice of the only, lonely, sole authentic soul left on earth, a warrior in a wasteland of authority figures and loved ones who just don’t understand, but blown up to epic proportions so that the plight of this hypothetical teenager is analogous to a wounded soldier dying on the battlefield, or an inmate in an insane asylum. It shouldn’t be surprising that this band has carried a wide appeal across basically every nation on earth, selling millions of records, and cementing its place as one of the biggest bands in rock and roll history. By that same token, was it really surprising that this band, after losing their second bassist, facing a dry spell, entering middle age, starting families, would have a collective breakdown, and that they would pay a film crew to document their breakdown? Of course they’re this emotional. Of course they’re this dysfunctional. Of course they put it all on film. This film is another extension of their collective ego, asserting itself as the Most Important Band in Rock, and naturally, if that band is in peril, then this is an Epic Struggle, worthy of the attention of the masses. And, of course, they’re right, there are millions of people who were really interested to see (including myself). What makes the whole thing so hilarious and absurd (other than just the content itself) is the fact that the film very obviously makes them out to look like completely vain, idiotic, overgrown children, and that they cannot see that at all. They must have given the green light to the final cut, they must have seen it. I’m sure they just thought the whole thing was really flattering, their egos are so divorced from reality. And, to be fair, I’m sure the filmmakers didn’t have to manipulate the raw footage that much to make these guys look like egotistical crybabies (although you can definitely see in the editing choices that there was a clear direction they wanted to head in). I don’t know what more to say about this movie. Everyone in this movie is hilarious to watch (especially Dave Mustaine), and maybe that makes me callous. They’re human beings, etc, their emotions aren’t funny, etc. But the fact that we’re talking about these particular people who are, to be completely clear, egotistical, materialistic, vain, pampered, multi-billionaire children (who are all basically cashing in on James Hetfield’s ability to write songs that people like) helps keep my conscience pretty clean at night. Laugh away, that’s what this movie is there for.

One response to “Metallica: Some Kind of Monster (USA, 2004)

  1. Pingback: List of Judgements, Anno Domini 2014 | Offhand Reviews·

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