We finally watched DIG! tonight. It was as good as my friend Chris led me to believe. I’ve always liked the Brian Jonestown Massacre when I’ve heard their music although I’ve never bought any of their records. I like the whole retro sparse Velvet Underground drone thing, so they are right in that pocket. I didn’t know any of the backstory of their crazy reputation or anything about Anton Newcombe. The movie makes him seem a lot like a cracked genius, but as much as I enjoyed the film it was immediately suspect on its balance. When your film is a narrative about the artistic tension between two people and one of them narrates the movie, that’s an issue.
Anton, as one might could predict, disavows the film. Most of what he says in there makes sense, so maybe he has some valid points. Whatever happened between the making of the film and now, it couldn’t have been too traumatic for relations between BJM and the Dandy Warhols because they played together in PDX and Seattle yesterday and the day before. I’ve always liked the Dandy Warhols music as well, even if they lack the raw mad genius of BJM.
I do give Anton the credit for being the kind of person who sits down and gets it done in the studio. He and his band have been freakishly prolific over the last decade. I do also see how the filmmakers have to cut something together out of their 1500 hours of footage, and it helps if a narrative emerges. It’s a little unfair to criticize them for making choices – that’s what everyone has to do to make a movie or an album or whatever. It seems like Newcombe would be one of those guys that would be horrible to have as a friend or colleague. As a Dandy said in the film (my paraphrase), “I’m not sharing a dressing room with them, I don’t want to be around them, but I’ll keep buying their records.”