Shot over a period of seven years, this film directed by Ondi Timoner won the 2004 Sundance Grand Jury Prize for documentaries. It charts the love/hate relationship between the members of two rock bands: San Francisco's The Brian Jonestown Massacre and Portland's The Dandy Warhols. The narrator is Courtney Taylor, leader of the four-man group from Oregon. Although he sees Anton Newcombe, the creative force behind The Brian Jonestown Massacre as an inspirational and prolific genius, he does have trouble with this performer's drug use, violence and self-destructiveness.
When The Dandy Warhols are given a record contract, Newcombe thinks they have sold out. He sees himself as a pioneer who can operate outside the rock establishment. In one year, he writes and produces three albums but whenever the time comes for him to make a deal, he blows it. And when he finally signs with a record company and faces off against a deadline, he derails himself with drugs and throws temper tantrums.
Over the years, 40 different musicians come and go as members of The Brian Jonestown Massacre. Courtney Taylor, on the other hand, leads his band through many changes as their 60s Velvet Underground sound evolves and they experience acclaim on a European tour. In the end, he states that it's only a matter of time until Newcombe's contributions to rock music will be truly appreciated. But from what we hear of The Brian Jonestown Massacre in this documentary, it is hard to fathom why anyone would ever compare them to the Beatles or Bob Dylan. Timoner has made an interesting documentary that does a fine job probing the rock music scene and what it takes to move ahead in a realm where only a small number of bands achieve success and lasting popularity.
Screened at the New Directors/New Films Festival, March/April 2004, New York City