A documentary on the once-promising American rock bands The Brian Jonestown Massacre and The Dandy Warhols, and the friendship/rivalry between their respective founders, Anton Newcombe and Courtney Taylor.
Sure, "Metallica: Some Kind of Monster" got all the love in 2004, but my favorite rock-doc-as-car-crash of last year was this: "DiG!"
Seven-some years in the making, it's director Ondi Timoner's crazy love letter to two men -- Anton Newcombe, leader of The Brian Jonestown Massacre; and Courtney Taylor, head of the Dandy Warhols. Both groups ignited like Apollo 11's on the launch pad of the 1990s music scene but slowly sputtered back down to the ground just as spectacularly.
Newcombe seems like a musical genius who can't resist imploding at the worst possible times and places, while Taylor has the drive and accessibility to succeed without the crucial spark of crazed brilliance. Their friendship/rivalry takes a lot of turns during the course of this film, which was mostly recorded on handheld cameras as the events unfolded.
Everything that's right and wrong with the music industry is here: the inescapable mechanics of the game; the perils of drugs, egomania, overambition, pride and possession of mass quantities of obnoxiousness. Anybody who thinks they might want to make music for money should see this film first.
Plus, there's a lot of great, entertaining footage here: Newcombe's ill-advised handling of a Georgia roadcheck; a run-in with David LaChappelle; and especially the BJM's disastrous, Andy Kaufman-esque meltdown in front of record execs at the Viper Room (you gotta love any fight scene that ends with "motherf----r broke my sitar, man!").
The movie's only significant weakness the fact that Taylor voices the film narration. Yes, he was there and can comment on the events unfolding with a distinct air of authority, but his reading also gives the lines an unignorable bias. It's a regretable slip that tilts the movie to a slightly unfair angle, but it doesn't sink "DiG!"
Plus, this movie had one of my favorite supporting "performances" of the year: long-suffering BJM sideman Joel Gion. If he doesn't parlay this movie into a career as a comedy star, he's not trying hard enough.
DiG! is a documentary that focuses on two promising 1990s rock groups: the Brian Jonestown Massacre and the Dandy Warhols. Though the film ostensibly concerns whether these groups will achieve stardom, it is at its best when it focuses on Anton Newcombe - the leader of the Brian Jonestown Massacre.
As a portrait of an angry, talented young man (Newcombe), DiG! is a success. People in the music industry regard Newcombe as a savant, even though he does everything he can to sabotage his career - fist fights with band mates, arrests for drugs, etc. DiG! offers viewers some insight into the possible roots of Newcombe's problems when discussing his childhood. Though it is sometimes difficult to watch Newcombe destroy himself, it is always interesting.
The material about the Dandy Warhols is middling. The group achieves more success than does the Brian Jonestown Massacre, but their story is just not as interesting. Anton is the main draw.
In short, DiG! is a good documentary that any fan of rock music will enjoy.
I think I've watched this five times now. An insight into a world most of us can only dream of being part of, but are thankful that we aren't. Amazing music, as many '90s flashbacks as you can handle, heady and questionable odors coming through the screen. If you enjoy car crash videos and Russian fail videos, you'll appreciate this documentary.
Totally hard-core and real. Best rockumentary I've seen in ages. I am a really devout fan as well as a music journalist and I am biased toward the Dandys to begin with! This however, goes way beyond the usual back-story hassles and drug abuse, which can wear on anyone's brain. Very compelling. "Heroin Is So Passe" was written for Anton Newcombe, who destroyed the band with his addiction to heroin....
Good vendors! Quick delivery. Would highly recommend them. Lyric/writer, biographer, music journalist
Easily one of my favorite documentaries of all time. I was only a slight BJM / Dandy fan before watching this but I was left intrigued. It definitely has a huge bias to it but as long as you keep that in mind, it is definitely enjoyable. Since watching, I have become a major fan of both groups.
I would highly recommend this regardless of whether you are a long time fan or never heard of the group. As a movie, independent of the music, it tells a pretty interesting story.
My husband is a great fan of BJM, and Dig! was a great tutorial on the band, Anton, and all the others involved. The documentary is perfect on so many levels - a must watch for lovers of music, documentaries, biographies, and great movies. It is expertly edited to show the many side of not only the music world, but humanity and sanity (or lack thereof). A must watch, in my humble opinion.