by Leah Sottile
If Fahrenheit 9/11 is the only film that inexperienced film watchers can think of when they hear the word "documentary" - assure them that the genre hardly rises and sets on Michael Moore. Because a documentary, when done right, is better than anything Scorsese or Spielberg could ever dream up. When they're funny, they're hilarious; when they're sad, they break your heart. And a good one compels viewers to be interested - even if they're vegan activists watching a doc on the blood and guts of the rodeo circuit.
And no matter how you feel about Metallica - hate 'em, love 'em, even if you don't know who they are - you will enjoy Some Kind of Monster. It's a point-blank look at a band gone sour -- three rockers whose day has passed (without their being ready to admit it). That denial spawns constant squabbling and petty inter-band snits. Pulling the band's plug, however, isn't an option. That's because for Metallica, life has been lots of money and lots of screaming metal babes who want their boobs signed and fe-mullets stroked. It's all just too sweet to give up.
So what do they do? They hire a counselor - a trained professional who meets with the band (now short one longtime member) and talks them down by holding their hands and listening to their egomaniacal stories.
This is a real-life Spinal Tap, a tale of three men who have risen to fame and haven't realized how hard they've fallen from it. They bicker over how to record their new album, reminisce about the old days when their hair was long and luxurious -- before Napster, before Megadeth, before kids and houses and commitments. When life was the band, man - back when it was just the bros.
The film is hilarious and realistic, shocking and sickening all at once. The idea - the world's most successful metal band confiding girlishly in heart-to-heart group sessions - is sidesplitting; it's even hard to believe that it's real. If you love Metallica, you'll love them even more for really putting their personalities and problems in front of the camera. And if you hate them, Some Kind of Monster will remind you why.
Publication date: 03/24/05