I Am Trying To Break Your Heart: A Film About Wilco (USA, 2002)

Directed by: Sam Jones. Few music documentaries are as hallowed and legendary as this one. I thought I was catching up on music docs when I saw the Radiohead one from OK Computer, but nobody talks about that one. Everybody talks about this movie. I’ve found that you almost can’t talk about Wilco or music docs without hearing someone enthusiastically exhorting you to go see it immediately. And I have to say, as much as I love and admire Wilco, I don’t know that much about them, I’ve only heard a handful of albums, and I don’t know Yankee Hotel Foxtrot as much as some others. But it’s such an interesting record and such an interesting story. It’s easy to look at it on paper—a black-and-white behind the scenes documentary about a rock band during a difficult time in their career—and assume it would be a pretty predictable, cliche kind of film. All I can say is, first of all, if you’re not familiar with the story of this album, check out the basic facts and tell me that’s not interesting—a major label dropping an album because they thought it would be commercial enough, only for another subsidiary of the same label to pick it up and put it out, to be greeted as one of the best albums of all time. But on top of that, Sam Jones gives you a really amazing, immersive, view of this moment, and it isn’t explosive, it isn’t yelling and screaming, but that’s why you know it’s real, you know that it’s a real band going through real band drama. Basically every fictional look at rock bands drives me nuts, and I wish that those movies would only be made by music people, or else they should just look at this movie and they’d get a pretty good idea. And that’s a pretty amazing feat for a music doc.

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