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Metallica: Some Kind Of... (2004)
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Review Date: May 16, 2004
Director: Joe Berlinger, Bruce Sinofsky
Writer:
Producers: Joe Berlinger, Bruce Sinofsky
Actors:
Lars Ulrich as himself
James Hetfield as himself
Kirk Hammett as himself
Bob Rock as himself
Plot:
A documentary film that follows the lives of the three remaining members of one of the most popular heavy metal bands of all time, Metallica, after their bassist quits and they begin the process of recording their latest album. After over 20 years together, it's obvious that the remaining members have a lot of personal issues to work out, both alone and as a group, so they also bring a shrink into the proceedings. Some kind of metallic monster ensues...
Critique:
It should be noted that I used to be a metalhead/punk in high school. One of the first albums that turned me on to the heavier side of rock was "Kill 'Em All" by a very young Metallica, featuring their first ever bassist Cliff Burton, who died in a bus accident a few years after that. I bring this up because I think it's important to have some perspective or appreciation for these guys and/or their music, in order to fully get into this 140-minute meditation on what went wrong with them in the past few years. I was intrigued throughout this entire documentary mostly because it showed these great musicians as "real people" with a variety of issues amongst one another, most of which anyone who's been around any sort of tight-knit group, community of family can relate to. In the case of the lead singer, James Hetfield, the man lost his mom at the age of 16, and his fear of abandonment had never left him since that time, so he drowned himself in the fame and the alcohol that came with all of that sudden success. The other major headbutter in the group, drummer Lars Ulrich aka the Most Hated Man in Rock Music (due to his very unpopular stance against Napster) aka Michael Keaton/lead singer of Green Day look-a-like, had always seemed a little too "uppity" in most interviews that I'd seen with him, and comes off pretty much the same here as well.

It's obvious that the main issues in the band are between those two members, and a lot of that has to do with control, manipulation and head games. Kirk Hammett, the only other remaining founding member of the band always seemed like a sweet, dimwitted guy before, and not surprisingly, comes off exactly as that here-- although a little more dimwitted than I imagined (his motto always seems to be "Let's all just get along") Dimwittedness aside, the man also seems to be the only one in the band who's got half his shit together, and even more importantly, his ego in check. I detail the three members of the group because those are essentially the folks that you spend over two hours with here, along with their long-time producer/friend Bob Rock and a creepy/cult-like therapist, who starts off like he's there to help, but ultimately seems to be around solely to justify his own existence and "need" to the band. One of my favorite scenes comes near the end of the movie, in which Hetfield lets loose on the shrink. That said, from what I'd heard about this documentary, I expected a lot more in-fighting and "fuck yous" on camera, but didn't get as much of that, as I did tension, misunderstandings and a couple of slammed doors. I liked the film on the whole, because it just goes to show how everyone, no matter how rich, successful and long they've been together, might require outside help once in a while, and it's commendable that even these "heavy metal rockers" slipped out of their own egos to allow themselves to be taped so nakedly. And speaking of naked...the "session" with original Metallica guitarist Dave Mustaine has got to be one of the most pathetic things I've ever seen...poor, poor guy...he's STILL not over the fact that he was cut from the band over 20 years ago!

More stuff with their families and friends would have helped fill in the gaps of their behavior/personalities a little better though, as opposed to the constant shots of the weirdo doctor sitting around pretending to enjoy their music. Where were their wives in all this? Have they no say in the lives of their husbands? I also think the film ran a little too long, with a little too much emphasis on the "good doctor" and his continued cockypock theories, some of which just sounded way too "Zen" and goofy for anyone to take seriously. I really loved the frank talk between the members though, as well as the many recording sessions and the way they showed their creative process at work. Nearing the end, the "search for a new bassist" was also fun, as were the sequences featuring the band actually playing their great music-my fave being the first song they play with Robert Trujillo, the new bassist, called "Battery" (and how about their opening offer to the man "How's a million dollar advance sound?"Awesoooooome!) Some of the earlier stuff between Ulrich and Hetfield is also hilarious, especially after Hetfield comes out of rehab a "changed man" and has to abide by certain regimented rules, and suddenly seems to be turning into a big-ass nerd, as opposed to a cool-ass rock 'n roller! Hetfield's visit to his daughter ballet recital is also a gas. And what's up with Ulrich's dad and his fuckin' kickass beard? Nice! That said, I really didn't get a great sense of "closure" for either Hetfield or Ulrich at the end of this thing (although their stances certainly did come closer), but the rest of the guys seem like they're gonna be okay - especially the bassist who left the band to actually go and play "music" elsewhere. Nice move! All in all, an intriguing study of an extremely popular heavy metal band and their personal issues.
(c) 2017 Berge Garabedian
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