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Metallica: This Monster Lives: The Inside Story of Some Kind of Monster Paperback – October 20, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In 2001, the hugely successful hard-rock/heavy metal band Metallica got together in a converted army bunker in San Francisco to record its first collection of new songs in years. Raw from the departure of their bass player yet determined to write and record together, the rock stars began group therapy with Phil Towle, a gentle-voiced therapist (or "performance-enhancement coach"). Far from hiding this image-smashing move, however, the band allowed acclaimed documentary filmmakers Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky to film, well, whatever. Even after Metallica lead singer James Hetfield slammed the therapy and left the recording studio, the creators of the brilliant documentaries Brother's Keeper and Paradise Lost were allowed to keep filming. What emerged two years later was a rock documentary, Metallica: Some Kind of Monster, that is arguably as defining a portrait of the values and conflicts of our times as Gimme Shelter is of its time. In an absorbing narrative, Berlinger (with rock journalist Milner) describes just what it took—the myriad decisions and risks—to turn nearly 1,600 hours of footage into a story that delivers an emotional impact that is all the greater for being true. This book should be required reading for aspiring filmmakers because it reveals the huge difference between turning the cameras on a contrived situation that purports to be "reality" and making a cinema verité or nonfiction film. Berlinger shows that capturing truth is both art and science, and that the best efforts require that the filmmakers risk as much as their subjects. 75 b&w photos.
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“Takes on the momentum of a suspense novel, and triumphs because of the commitment and fearlessness of Metallica…This Monster Lives shows that tenacious reporting can still produce great narratives, even about the most mega of megaplatinum stars.” ―New York Times

“Berlinger takes us even deeper into the inner sanctum. One of the book's bonuses: many events that were edited for the film, including a pivotal scene in which drummer Lars Ulrich laces into singer James Hetfield, are transcribed in full.” ―USA Today

“A fascinating look at the logistics of making an album and the dysfunctional family that bands can become.” ―Chicago Tribune

“Berlinger truly puts the meta in Metallica. Loads of deleted scenes and a metal-friendly theme (everyone has a monster to slay) are riffs we can all bang our heads to.” ―USA Today


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; Reprint edition (November 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312333129
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312333126
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,535,580 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Lisa M. Schreiner on January 19, 2005
Format: Hardcover
In a time where sitting down and reading book is as rare as finding a good slice of pizza outside of New York; and attention span's are shorter than the line at a showing of Gigli, Joe Berlinger and Greg Milner's "This Monster Lives," certainly brought back a good reason to throw on your favorite pajama pants, grab a hot beverage, snuggle into that oh-so-comfortable spot on the couch, and lose yourself in a great piece of literature.

"This Monster Lives," delves into the behind-closed-doors aspect of the movie Metallica: Some Kind of Monster, which was dreamt up and filmed by acclaimed documentary filmmakers Bruce Sinofsky and co-author of the book, Joe Berlinger. Berlinger and Sinofsky, best known for their HBO documentaries, Paradise Lost : The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills, Paradise Lost 2: Revelations and Brother's Keeper, filmed rock band Metallica through what could quite easily be considered the roughest and bumpiest road in the Bay Area band's tumultuous career. "This Monster Lives," tells the story of how the idea of making a movie about Metallica came to be, how that idea became a reality, and how it didn`t become another This is Spinal Tap.

Joe Berlinger and Greg Milner tactfully give us the insider's look at what it was like to work with one of the world's most successful rock bands of all time. From pitching the idea to the band and management to the red carpet premiere(s) of the movie, "This Monster Lives," lets the reader feel like they were there every step of the way, becoming absorbed into this world of rock 'n roll, filmmaking and yes, even therapy sessions.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By S. Thompson on April 23, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I loved the Metallica documentary "Some Kind of Monster", and after I read the book, I loved the film even more. The book to me fills in all the right gaps that the film couldn't present - for sake of time only. I love to know how things work and operate, so I loved reading how filmmakers decide on a piece of work, how it's filmed, and then how the footage gets made into a masterpiece. What insight. Great book - Highly recommended!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Aaron Dawe on December 15, 2004
Format: Hardcover
So what do you do when you're a film maker that's just shot over 1600 hours of footage for the biggest heavy metal band on the planet and have assembled it into a highly praised documentary? You write a book about it, of course.
Some may question, with the existence of the film Some Kind of Monster, what is the need for a book? Doesn't the film already tell us everything we may want to know? Well, that's not entirely true. While the book does cover same territory, it goes into a lot more depth behind what we see on screen and more on what we didn't. If the film is about a broken band struggling with the creative process, the book is about a film maker dealing with the exact same struggles he's documenting. I think anyone who's creative and has ever had to balance the tug of war between commerce and art will really get this. While Metallica fans will get a lot out of the details within, the average reader with an interest in the creative process and how the industry (music and film) can screw over the very people that keep it running is fascinating stuff. Joe Berlinger's rancor over the critically drubbed Blair Witch Project sequel (a bad idea to begin with), which he wrote and directed only to have the studio alter the final product, is sadly probably more common than most of us realize. That Metallica, who clearly have major control issues, feel a need to be creative and do what they feel - and yet understand that any serious misstep will also affect the lives and livelihood of all the people who are also a part of the 'monster'-puts unrealistic pressure on their work. It's no wonder they need a performance coach to help them get in touch with themselves and rediscover why they're in a band in the first place. It's too bad that even with all the honest intentions, the album St.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Stephanie Giannetti on January 8, 2005
Format: Hardcover
As a fan of Metallica, deciding to watch the Some Kind of Monster (SKOM) documentary was a no-brainer. So was the decision to read the book, THIS MONSTER LIVES. After all, why not get a behind the scenes peak at what the documentary chronicles?

This book, written by half the SKOM directorial team, is a fascinating read. I plowed through it relatively quickly. I would have read it at an even quicker pace, but at times I felt compelled to put it down. And that wasn't for the lack of interest, nor did it have anything to do with any negative reaction to the style of the writing. What it had to do with was the in-depth glimpse at the therapy sessions.

Berlinger includes transcripts from specific therapy sessions that the members of Metallica had with (performance enhancement coach) Phil Towle. He also elaborates, throughout the book, on what we DIDN'T see in those sessions, and discusses why certain things made the cutting room floor. As a Metallica fan, these tidbits are interesting yet tough to read. It is sad to see just how close Metallica came to ceasing to exist. As a matter of fact, it is pointed out that during the filming of SKOM, it was realistic to say that there was no Metallica.

As a film fan, or for someone who is into documentaries (watching them or making them), this book serves as a great tutorial. Berlinger uses some pages in the book's beginning to fill you in on his background (and Bruce Sinofsky's as well) as a filmmaker. He takes you through Brother's Keeper and the Paradise Lost films briefly, pointing out the challenges to making a successful documentary.
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