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Laramie Movie Scope:
Metallica: Some Kind of Monster

Inside rock band group therapy

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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January 31, 2005 -- “Metallica: Some Kind of Monster” is a penetrating look inside the psyche of a troubled rock band. Directors Joe Berlinger (“Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2”) and Bruce Sinofsky obtain unprecedented access to the band, even filming group therapy sessions in which band members try to patch up conflicts which are threatening to tear the band apart. Berlinger and Sinofsky first met Metallica when they used the band's music as a soundtrack for their film “Paradise Lost.”

“Metallica: Some Kind of Monster” is an overlong, but interesting documentary of heavy metal band Metallica which finds the band working on its first new album (St. Anger) in five years, followed by its first concert tour in three years. Personality conflicts within the band make it nearly impossible for the band to work together. A music coach, Phil Towle, is brought in to facilitate group therapy sessions to get the band musically and emotionally back on track.

In addition to interviews with all of the band members, the record producer, managers and others, several former Metallica members are also interviewed. One of them, Dave Mustaine, who went on to be a founding member of Megadeth, confronts the current Metallica band leader about the way he was treated by the band. This and other scenes underscore the basic insecurity that haunts even the most successful musicians. One Metallica member talks openly about his fear that the wellspring of his musical inspiration has dried up.

A fascinating look behind the scenes, it also gives us a glimpse of the business side of the record industry. Access obtained by the filmmakers extends to the recording sessions and other creative meetings held by the band. While you never quite forget that the camera does change the behavior of the people it captures, the film reveals a lot of layers under the surface of Metallica. The filmmakers themselves appear on camera, arguing with band members who would rather just stop the film.

One of the inside-the-band scenes in the film has bass player Jason Newsted leaving the band. Another is the audition and hiring of Newsted's replacement, bassist Robert Trujillo, who joined the band in 2003. Lead singer James Hetfield takes a leave of absence from the band to enter treatment for drug addiction. Other scenes capture the band trying a new, collaborative process for writing new music. Previously, Hetfield had written all the lyrics for Metallica songs. I thought it was interesting that when Metallica finally does get on stage for their tour at the end of the film, they don't use their own music for the introduction. Instead, they use some Ennio Morricone music from a Sergio Leone western movie. Weird. This film rates a C+.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in video and/or DVD format, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2005 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)