Metallica: Some Kind Of Monster

Metallica: Some Kind Of Monster

****

Reviewed by: The Dude

This documentary chronicles the three-year period in which Metallica struggled to make their 11th album, St Anger. The film begins in 2001 at what seems like the end - their bass player for the past 14 years, Jason Newsted, has just quit and the rest of the band members are barely talking to each other.

As a last resort, their management company suggests they hire a therapist (a bargain at only $40,000 a month!!!) to work the boys through their issues, their next album and finding a new bass player. The resulting tale is one of surprising frankness and honesty, which doesn't mean that the band comes off as poor, misunderstood musicians who don't know what to do with all that money and success. Not by a longshot.

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As James Hatfield sings, 'It's my world, you cannot have it,' with a baby in his arms, he perfectly sums up not only his struggle to let go of his various (superiority) complexes, but everyone's (even the therapist!). After months of squabbling with the band and dismissing the (albeit stereotypically new-agey) advice of the therapist, Phil Towle, James decides to check himself into rehab and disappears from the scene.

When he returns, he is a sober version of himself, although still fights, still throws tantrums and still doesn't understand why everyone else can't work around his limited four hour a day schedule. It isn't until almost two-and-a-half years have passed that he actually starts to express his "feelings" and embrace the new process of music-making that the whole band is trying to adhere to ...in their own way.

And that's just a glimpse of one storyline. While James is battling his addictions, Lars is battling Napster and unfortunately alienating the rock spirit and fan base that many believe Metallica represented. Also, he has to give up his senior band role in the interests of fairness and, just like James, picks fights, throws tantrums and gets generally pissed off.

Though the story does drag in a few places, so do the lives that the documentary endeavours to encapsulate. The highs and lows of the charmed life that fans and regular people never see don't always happen quickly, or with creative dialogue, and the pace is a respectful and necessary one.

The film doesn't necessarily have a happy ending, nor does it have a sad one. What it does have, however, is heart and if you're an anti-therapy cynic, who thinks that phrases like 'What I'm hearing is...' and 'That makes me feel...' are rubbish (as indeed some of the members in the audience were kind enough to share with us), then save the sighs and eye rolls 'cause this ain't the film for you.

Those who can see past the clich├ęd catch phrases and want to see a good story about a great band, this is definitely an important film.

Reviewed on: 18 Sep 2004
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Metallica: Some Kind Of Monster packshot
The fall and rise of a veteran heavy metal band.
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Read more Metallica: Some Kind Of Monster reviews:

Keith Hennessey Brown ****

Director: Joel Berlinger, Bruce Sinofsky

Starring: James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett, Bob Rock, Jason Newsted, Robert Trujillo

Year: 2004

Runtime: 145 minutes

Country: US

Festivals:

EIFF 2004
DOC NYC 2014

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If you like this, try:

Metal: A Headbanger's Journey