Thursday, September 10, 2009

A moment of brain silence and GIMME SHELTER (99)

It's eerie, my brain it's quiet.

Seriously, on most occasions I could just scrawl out a list of the absurd thoughts flitting about in this gooey center, but right now, for some strange reason, it's empty. Just a peaceful haven of bird calls and cricket tweets.

I'm just going to roll with it though. Keep on keepin' on if you know what I'm saying.

Lets talk about Gimme Shelter (99).

As I expected to be, I was completely and totally blown away by how good this film was. It's absolutely the most telling documentary I've seen about the end of The Summer of Love. It sheds a harsh light on the drugs, the sex, the sort of devil-may-care attitude that permeated a certain sect of society, and what it reveals aren't entirely pretty.

I shut my computer off two days ago, Mick Jagger's distraught face burned in to my mind, and wanted to curl up in a ball and just be held. God I love it when I film can do that to me.

My thoughts on this fantastic documentary, again scrawled in my journal as I watched this film:

1. Mick Jagger is a dick

From moment one while watching this film, Mick Jagger comes across as exactly the kind of rock star I sort of hate. He's pompous and attractive and just thinks his band and the music they make is the greatest music in the entire world. There's a line when he's talking about an absolutely spectacular performance by Tina Turner that's goes something like, "It's nice to have a chick do well" that made me cringe. And through out the film, he becomes more and more so, just a man overcome with power and fame. The Maysles do a fantastic trick here, by concurrently showing the documentary to both you and to Mick Jagger and filming his reaction. So you can actually see in the lines of his Brit-face how the terrible events of the film affect him.

2. Drugs are bad.

There's a brief scene in this movie where a man, in the thralls of a bad trip, is shirtless barking at the camera that made my stomach flip. That coupled with woman screaming and then seizuring and the sheer lack of control oozing across every one's face in this film, I never want to touch another bit of that sticky-icky every again. I mean I probably will, but c'mon, this film certainly drives D.A.R.E.'s message home.

3. There's something sketchy about the whole damn thing.

Just right from the start, you know this party isn't going to be Woodstock. There's backroom discussions about spacing. The British promoters just can't seem to get the proper, well, anything set up, and the crowd, framed so creepily by these fantastic documentarians, seem almost animalistic, on the edge of sanity, ready to tear each other apart. Drugs are bad and seemingly, so are music festivals.

4. "Tough shit."

Hmmmmm ... I can't remember why I wrote this. I'm assuming there was something with someone being hurt or having a drug overdose and this was the line that emitted from the mouth of the promoters. Ew.

5. They need bandages!

This is how badly everything was set up: someone gets hurt in the crowd, and instead of a fully-prepared doctor heading on down and fixin' them up. The promoters start asking the crowd if they have any bandages. THE CROWD! A tragedy of errors.

6. I wonder if people who actually went to this show were like "Awesome!"

You know? I've been to too many concerts where something awful has happened (injuries, fights, overdoses) but the music was amazing, the crowd was fantastic, and I left thinking, "Wow, what a show." I wonder if The Maysles capture the truly negative aspect of the concert so well that we don't get a solid glimpse of the positives. Or this could just be the most fucked-up concert of all time, and this is a perfect snapshot of the event.

7. Holy shit.

There was just a point in this film, moments after The Hell's Angels (security at the event) beat up the guitarist for Jefferson Airplane that I just wrote down "Holy shit" and then stopped writing. Everything after this moment is a downward spiral, a straight shot to a truly chilling conclusion, and I couldn't find a single moment that didn't make me just want to write the two words over and over again. If Woodstock was love and peace, this was hell and violence.

Final thoughts: Please, for the love of god, see this film. If you hate The Rolling Stones (Dad), or if you don't like documentaries, or if you're a creepy interweb troller that stumbled on my blog, take my advice: see this film. It's as good a documentary (music or otherwise) as created, and you are missing out hugely if you don't do yourself the favor of seeing it.

Just saying.

Friday: Errol Morris' First Contact Marathon

No comments: