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Metallica: Some Kind Of Monster & De Lovely
Reviewed by Dennis Morton
Aired 7/21, 2004

Had anyone asked me, before last week, if I listened to heavy metal, I’d have said, not willingly. Jazz is my music. But last week I walked into a screening of Metallica: Some Kind Of Monster, and walked out a believer. Not in the music, necessarily, but certainly in the movie. And, I confess, in less time than it probably takes to get out of the parking lot after a Metallica concert, I’d developed an affection for James, Lars and Kirk, the three mainstays of the band.

Some Kind Of Monster, a documentary, was almost three years in the making. After twenty years of stupendous success, which included sales of 90 million albums, the boys, now nearing middle age, were burnt out. They hadn’t toured and it had been several years since their last album. The two original members were hardly speaking to one another. The bass player of 15 years had recently quit the band. It was time for drastic action. It was time for … group therapy.

The band’s business agent hooked them up with a psychotherapist named Phil. For a mere $40,000 a month, Phil set up camp at a rented recording studio in San Francisco’s Presidio. Amazingly, the cameras were rolling during the therapy sessions. If anyone was holding back, it wasn’t evident.

What I heard coming from Phil was a heaping platter of platitudes, psycho-babble bordering on the inane. But it didn’t take long to realize that this was new stuff to James and Lars. And then it wasn’t much of a leap for me to get off my high horse and remember that a cliché to a virgin ear is powerful rhetoric, that clichés earn their status.

These guys had been working hard and playing harder for most of their adult lives. They’d apparently not taken time for reflection, at least James and Lars hadn’t. And James and Lars, when it came down to it, were Metallica.

Over the course of making the film, the band made glacial progress on a new album, James went into rehab for six months, the therapy sessions continued, and the hunt for a permanent bassist gathered steam.

Some Kind Of Monster is considerably over two hours long, but I became so emotionally invested in each of the band members that I forgot I was watching a movie. I was rooting for all of them. I didn’t care that these guys could buy a small country and have a few million left over. I just wanted them to be happy.

My advice: whatever your opinion of heavy metal – put it aside. This is not your typical rockumentary. There’s hardly anything typical about this wonderful film. Don’t miss it.

A few words now about De Lovely, which opened last week in area theatres.

I mentioned that jazz is dear to me. So there was no way I would miss the new Cole Porter biopic. Sadly, as much as I wanted to like it, I’m compelled to conclude that De Lovely is a failure. But it’s a swellegant failure, and I do recommend it, if you love Cole Porter’s music.

De Lovely is more like a double feature, in one film. The Porter biography is far short of the mark. But the productions of his incredible songs are great. I’d not have guessed that Alanis Morisette could remind me of Eartha Kitt. But her version of "Let’s Do It, Let’s Fall In Love" is brilliant – sensuous and sassy and sensational. And Sheryl Crow’s interpretation of "Begin The Beguine" is also top drawer. After all, we love Cole Porter for his music, and De Lovely, in that regard, does not disappoint. I’ve heard this movie twice. I’ll probably hear it again.

For KUSP’s Film Gang, this is Dennis Morton.