Metallica ; Somekind of Monster
November 28, 2010 Leave a comment
Sutradara : Joe Berlinger & Bruce Sinofsky
Pemain : James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammet, Robert Trujillo, etc.
Let me come clean for a moment. I’ll say at the outset of this review that I am not one of the Metallica faithful. I am, however, a huge music fan, so maybe that counts for something in the scheme of things. But the metal genre, or whatever they’re officially classified as, was always just on the outskirts of my musical radar, and though I was familiar with the basic tenets of what the long-lasting entity known as Metallica was all about, I was never what you would consider remotely a fan. I never disliked them, I just never gravitated towards them. Somehow a song like Enter Sandman was familiar to me, but I would have been hard pressed to come up one other song title of theirs. Why the big disclaimer, you ask? It’s because Metallica : Some Kind of Monster does not require that one be in on what the band is all about, that it is not necessary to know the history or the songs to find this documentary completely fascinating. Being a music fan probably helps, but it’s probably not a prerequisite. This wasn’t made, or at least didn’t end up as a fanboy homage—though I’m sure Metallica-heads will mine some nuggets that escaped me—but that’s not really what filmmakers Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky [Brother’s Keeper, Paradise Lost] had in mind. What started as an inside look at the creative process of making what would eventually become the Grammy-winning release, St. Anger, became a fly-on-the-wall view of one of rock’s biggest acts disintegrating as addictions, conflicts, hostilities, and vendettas threatened to tear them apart, with documentary cameras there to catch it all. It looks behind the magical curtain of big time rock and roll, and it isn’t always pretty. Things start in early 2001, with the band in the beginning stages of putting together their first album in five years, still missing a bassist after the departure of Jason Newstead, who came into conflict with vocalist/guitarist and de facto bossman James Hetfield. The remaining three members [Hetfield, drummer Lars Ulrich and guitarist Kirk Hammett] have enlisted the help of Phil Towle, a $40,000/month therapist hired to open the lines of communication, and the appropriately named album producer Bob Rock has been drafted to do double duty as bassist. As the days begin to tick by, with no real forward progress being made, Hetfield, who has been on the wrong end of substance abuse for years, ups and vanishes as he goes into an isolated period of rehab that stretches nearly a year, leaving the new project temporarily stagnant. There is a veneer of strange but true weirdness in this rock and roll world, something that Berlinger and Sinofsky display with an unblinking eye. Hetfield’s eventual clean-and-sober return, which sparked a whole new set of internal problems—primarily between him and Ulrich—falls in alongside such other obstacles as the backlash brought upon them by Ulrich’s public crusade against Napster, or the increasing role of therapist Towle to build an “I’m feeling this when you say that” kind of dialogue between the bickering leads of the group, while gentle-voiced Hammett always lurks in the background, almost unwilling to rise up against Hetfield, drunk, sober or otherwise. Or witness the near parody levels reached as one-time member Dave Mustaine [who went on to form metal rival Megadeth] confronts Ulrich in one of the therapy sessions, citing his hurt feelings. I can’t stress how odd it was to see members of two of the biggest metal acts getting in touch with their emotions, and while I don’t knock them doing it, there is something almost Spinal Tap-ish about the whole thing. All that reality TV strife and drama is only a small part of what makes this doc so immensely watchable, because along the way Berlinger and Sinofsky capture a seldom seen look at the songwriting process, as studio rehearsals turn into brainstorming sessions as snippets of lyrics are bandied about, or riffs are molded and tweaked to create songs. Even one of Hetfield’s throwaway barbs used during a conference call ends up becoming a key lyric to one of the new songs. One one hand it’s a kick to see a band that has sold 90 million albums argue and complain amongst themselves, but seeing them create music reinforces the whole “they put their pants on one leg at a time” mentality. There is no magic pill to songwriting, and the Metallica members, high and mighty rock gods that they are, go through the same kind of back-and-forth struggle in the process of writing music. And if anything, it knocks them down a peg and immediately makes them seem like regular joes [admittedly wealthy joes], even as one of them [Ulrich] is shown making millions of dollars after auctioning off some of his prized artwork collection. If you have a love of music—any type at all, it doesn’t matter—then I know you will find the experience a real joyride. For a doc it may seem to run a little long, pushing the 140 minute mark, but I never found the pace to be lethargic or dull. The threat of disintegration and the loose degree of cohesion that keeps a band like Metallica together puts a face to the terms “creative differences”. Look at the underbelly of rock and roll. Look at it!… [Rich Rosell / DigitallyObsessed]