in Media, Movies, Records

Montage of Kurt

I finally got a chance to watch the new Kurt Cobain documentary everybody has been talking about : ‘Montage of Heck ‘. Reading Buzz Osborne interview on the Talkhouse this morning made me jump ahead. If this documentary is 99% bullshit, I had to see for myself.

Well, as a matter of fact, I didn’t like it. I haven’t learned anything, and I thought it was just a collection of sounds and images, but couldn’t see any insightful purpose behind it all.

I read Kurt’s dairy and Charles R. Cross book “Cobain Unseen” a few years ago and I knew almost everything already : how the divorce of his parents affected him deeply, the fear of humiliation, how music and the development of Nirvana structured his life for a while, his influences and surroundings, how sudden was the exposure to massive media, as well as his struggle with heroin, the fake stomach issues to justify drug medication, the shady influence of Courtney, and of course the awful ending.
What else is there to say?


This being said, I did enjoy how the documentary was built. The animations are really great, the footage from his childhood, and some demos we can hear in the backround turned out being really inspiring. Unfortunately, the final result is nothing but a montage, and there is no convincing thread holding the images together.
Footages of Kurt and Courtney totally high while taking care of Frances Bean Cobain are terrible, and make you want to shut the whole thing down. What’s the point of showing this anyway?

It is obvious that Kurt was a smart yet fragile fellow, with a huge talent, and I do believe he is one of the finest songwriters ever. But as many others, he got crushed by success and mass exposure, and he couldn’t cope with being the leader of an entire generation. That’s basically all there is to know. There were many others like him. Celebrity and money often lead to bad influences, bad surroundings and bad people, all of this combined with drugs…well, it also usually leads to a bad ending.

Save two hours of your life for something else, you obviously don’t need to see ‘Montage of Heck’.
So there.



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  1. Haven’t seen “Montage of heck” yet but the Buzz Osbourne’s opinion really makes me want to check it too (despite everyone telling me how voyeuristic it can get) !

    The weird thing about the accuracy of this documentary is that there is one person that might end all this very quickly : Michael Azerrad, the very same editor in chief of The Talkhouse, is also the author of “Come as you are”, a very thorough biography of Nirvana (he spent a lot of time recording Kurt Cobain for that book, his recordings were the rough material used in the “About a son” documentary)
    I really wonder what is his opinion on that movie…

    (Je continue en français pour le plaisir, est-ce qu’il faut déduire de vos derniers posts, sur Kim Gordon, Blur, les Breeders et Kurt Cobain, que vous préparez un album ’90s? ^_^)

  2. Bonjour Santigao, let’s continue in french !

    Je suppose en effet que l’on n’aura jamais le fin mot de l’histoire à propos de Kurt, mais à mon sens il ne faut pas chercher trop loin. C’était simplement un toxico, et ça s’est mal terminé. Voilà tout. Ma critique concerne surtout le propos du documentaire, qui à mon sens manque d’intention. J’ai trouvé que le film ressemblait à une collection de documents inédits, réunis astucieusement mais sans structure.
    Encore une fois, ayant déjà lu le journal de Kurt et la bio de Charles R. Cross rien ne m’a semblé nouveau.
    Je ne sais pas ce que le réalisateur a voulu montrer au juste.

    Quant à moi, il est exact que cette grande période Kim Deal/Kim Gordon/Kurt Cobain laisserait présager un retour vers les 90s. Mais en suis-je vraiment jamais sortie? C’est toute la musique que j’écoutais ado, et qui m’a fortement influencée.
    Je ne peux pas vraiment me prononcer sur mon disque encore. On verra quand l’album sera terminé. Mais ces groupes là ont passé l’épreuve du temps en restant fidèle à une esthétique assez simple, et c’est vrai que cela me plaît. C’est pour cette raison que je les écoute beaucoup en ce moment, pour ne pas oublier comment sonnent une batterie et une guitare branchée dans un ampli à lampes.
    Back to basics.