- Archival live footage of performances, interviews, news segments.
- Live performances from 2002 reunion.
- Recording and mixing footage.
Not a Photograph
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NOT A PHOTOGRAPH documents the resurrection of the seminal post-punk band Mission of Burma, as well as their humble beginnings in Boston. For a band deemed too ahead-of-their-time during their initial existence, NOT A PHOTOGRAPH follows Mission of Burmas
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There are some great moments when the likes of Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo (among others) have a play with Mission. Maybe i am just exposing my shallow lust for live SY. Don't get me wrong, i watched Not a Photograph a couple of times, so its an intriguiing story. And its nice to see a lesser known, more adventurous band still resonanting with so many people (young and old(ish)) 20 years after the fact.
I guess though being young and from New Zealand, i was hoping for more footage of live performances, historic and present. Similarly i found the 'dvd extras' a little disappointing in this respect as well. I just wish they could have jammed in a heap more footage from their recent gigs, for us antipodean folk.
So in summing; its decent, but of the similar doco's i have seen, Fugazi's Instrument still shines in my mind.
You can always tell when it's summer in Cleveland. No, not by the lovely smell of raw sewage that hangs over the intersection of East 12th and Superior (though it's a good indication), but by the fact that every other concert at Blossom, our large, ungainly, hideously overpriced outdoor arena, is composed of two or three hack bands who had their heyday sometime between the mid-seventies and mid-eighties, then broke up, spent all their money, and are now back together for a cynical cash grab. (At least one cannot fault the Sex Pistols for being up front about this when they kicked off the Filthy Lucre tour.) You can forgive someone who was a young punk during that very period for being less than excited when I hear that, yes, another band who made my formative years what they were are getting back together to collectively piss on their own grave. And yet, down below that morass of nihilism, there's always just that dirty little glimmer of hope that maybe <em>this</em> band, as long as they were good back then (e.g., there was no chance an Eagles reunion tour was ever going to do <em>anything</em> but suck), were going to come rolling into town and play a show that was just as mind-blowing as that show they played at that venue, which is now long gone of course, back in 1981 when everyone stood around for two hours in the freezing cold waiting for the door to open because the soundguy was too strung out to go unlock it. Remember that? And yet band after band after band after band pops up and sucks.
And then there's Mission of Burma.
Miller, Conley, and their traveling circus took a little bit of time (and, from what I understand from folks involved in setting the show up, more than a little bit of doing) before pulling into Cleveland after re-forming, and we'd all heard the new stuff, so we figured there was some hope. But then, have you ever heard King Diamond live? Studio recordings are good enough, but they sometimes mask, shall we say, certain glaring faults live. Worse yet, the crew who put the show together are known for coming up with incredible opening rosters for these shows. (Guided by Voices headlined this gig in 2002 and got blown out of the water by Victory Flag, Soulless, and Viva Caramel, for example.) The cynic in me was naysaying right up until they took the stage and blew the crowd right back to 1982. "That's When I Reach for My Revolver" and "Trem Two" never sounded so good. And, of course, "Not a Photograph."
This documentary, named after the song, is the story of MoB: where they came from, where they were, where they went after that, and how (and why) they got back together. None of which will probably surprise you, given that the subtitle of the documentary is "The Mission of Burma Story". But music documentaries have a tendency to be... well... boring. Okay, boring as hell. The only way VH1 manages to get viewers for Behind the Music is because it's only thirty minutes long. No one wants to hear a bunch of zonked-out former metalheads talking about the glory days for an hour and a half. I was hopeful that the movie might actually be as magical as the revitalized live performance. And it is... well, almost. Iwanicki and Kleiler manage to take the usual mélange of interviews, old live footage, and present interviews and make it interesting. This is in no small part because the band members are all intelligent folk who didn't (or don't seem to have, anyway) fry their brains back in the good old days, but there's something more at work under the hood here. I'm not sure what it is--the enthusiasm of the fans (both old and current) or the energy of the old live performances or the sense that here was a band who were actually doing something <em>new</em>--but it is there, and it makes this not only worth watching, but one of the better music documentaries I've ever seen. Well worth it if you were a fan back in the day, and even if you've never heard of them. *** ½