Billy's Film Reviews.

A series of film reviews and opinion pieces from a film student and all round movie lover! Happy reading!

Cobain: Montage of Heck – 2015



Release: 2015

Directed By: Brett Morgen

Produced By: Brett Morgen, Danielle Renfrew Behrens

Written By: Brett Morgen

Running Time: 132 Minutes

The musical contributions of Nirvana are undoubtedly definitive of an era and genre. Throughout the 1990’s, the game changed upon the introduction of a new form of music in the mainstream network.
Grunge, as we now know it be, was pioneered by and continues to be associated with Washington rockers Nirvana, but where many peoples’ interests lie is even deeper within the frameworks of the band itself. Comprising of three upstart rebels, fronted by the enigmatic Kurt Cobain, Nirvana’s legacy became legend all too quickly through their unparalleled rise in the 90’s, making for some truly incredible stories along the way.

Cobain: Montage of Heck, the latest effort from documentarian Brett Morgen, is the explorative tale of the man himself. Focusing on not only his career, but more importantly his personal life, the film shines a new light on the mythic singer/songwriter; offering various insights into the true Kurt Donald Cobain.

kurtcobain06Like many creative geniuses in the music industry, many found their influence and ultimate fall from grace through the cruel grip of addiction. As his music, perception and image suggested, Cobain wasn’t the happiest of men, in fact, his twenty-seven-year life was one filled with despair, anger and sadness, which were primarily attributed to his long-lasting relationship with narcotics.

A man with immense potential, the loss of Kurt Cobain remains one of the most saddening in recent memory, and through the stylistic, tonal direction of Brett Morgen, the documentary is able to generate some additional potency and remorse regarding his death.

The style of Montage of Heck is representative of not only Cobain’s music, but it manages to represent his personality and philosophies as well. Blending archival footage, interviews and stunning animations, Montage of Heck is full of energy and rawness, reminiscent of something such as 2008’s Not Quite Hollywood.
At its core, there are some links to the travelling doco 1991: The Year Punk Broke, which too follows Nirvana as they tour Europe alongside Sonic Youth.

1401x788-85238140With anchoring interviews from Courtney Love and Krist Novoselic, we’re able to see what sort of man Cobain was both in and outside the band. Where his worlds did cross over, controversy and hardships often ensued, however the two sides are kept separate for the majority of the documentary.
The absence of Dave Grohl is a little disappointing, but for whatever reason he didn’t appear for interviews, his memories of Kurt can be vicariously taken from Novoselic for the most part.

The primary chapter of his life involved becoming a father and trying to beat his addiction. Juggling marriage, fatherhood, music and narcotics simultaneously caused Kurt a lot of trouble, and it’s through this stage of the documentary that we are able to grasp just how troubled this man was at this stage of his life.

With confronting close-ups of hand-written lyrics dealing with death, abandonment and cerebral stress, the documentary allows visuals to do the talking more often than not. As he so famously wrote, “I’m so happy ’cause today I’ve found my friends, they’re in my head…”

Kurt Cobain of Nirvana (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)

Cobain appeared a reclusive, independent and fragile man throughout his career, and through the words of his most important influences, we’re able to understand so much more than we already knew. His distaste for strangers, desire to stay indoors and careless opinion on success are all addressed and explored in the sizeable rock doc of 132-minutes.

The structure of Montage of Heck speaks louder than words ever could, embodying and exhibiting Cobain in almost every aspect of his personality, psyche and life.
With the conscious decision to not explore the final chapter of his life, the documentary ends rather abruptly, however upon reflection, the choice is commendable and respectful for many reasons, partly because we as an audience are already aware of the circumstances regarding his death.
We’re treated to an intimate account of events that Cobain was a part of during his tragically short time here on Earth, and a lot can be taken from the experience.

Kurt Donald Cobain was a man with supreme talent, and short, but illustrious career who came as he was and sold something new to the world. Morgen’s Cobain: Montage of Heck is an incredible story that captures the essence of the man Cobain was, in almost every single troublesome way.


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