Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck Screen 6 articles

Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck

2015

Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck Poster
  • Home videos of Cobain and Love are as depressing as you’d expect, and while a producer credit for the couple’s daughter Frances Bean Cobain suggests a fond celebration of the film’s subject, he doesn’t emerge as a hugely compelling character. The argument for Cobain’s brilliance never quite convinces until towards the end, with his MTV Unplugged performance, in which a whole new compelling register to his talent emerges – too late for the film, and alas, for the singer himself.

  • The film's subtitle is the name Cobain gave to his early demos and Morgen takes this concept as a mantra, jumping from '50s archival footage to Nirvana concerts to animated reenactments of Cobain's adolescence, narrated by the singer himself through a series of audio recordings he secretly made as a teenager. The effect is something like a combination of Korn's "Freak on a Leash" video and Richard Linklater's use of Rotoscoping.

  • Like Listen to Me Marlon, which premiered alongside it at Sundance '15, this isn't nearly as unconventional as the hype insisted. Scattered passages are beautifully impressionistic, but structurally it's still a straightforward linear biopic, complete with talking heads. However, the materials Morgen received from the family and Love are astonishingly intimate—like a real-life version of the footage Sarah Polley manufactured for Stories We Tell.

  • Brett Morgen's documentary is more than just a must-see for Nirvana fans. It's an eight-years-in-the-making collective labor of love that offers a private peek into the artist's mind, from the first creative stirrings to the spiral downward. And by the time you get to the final shot of Kurt thanking the audience at the band's MTV Unplugged show, you don't just feel as if you've gotten to know the man better. You're left completely emotionally spent.

  • The film is every bit as accomplished as the early hype suggests, as Morgen cannily cuts between interviews with family members and close friends, animated reenactments (always a gamble, but the high-quality, near-rotoscoped look meshes well with the overall aesthetic), and most importantly, Cobain’s journals... It is a startlingly intimate look into a troubled man’s state of mind that never falls victim to sophistic psychoanalysis.

  • Brett Morgen’s Cobain: The Montage of Heck was devastating. Gut-wrenching... The documentary’s strength lies in its unforgettable collage, of extant footage, and home movies (so touching) but also animation (Cobain’s journals coming to life in freaky little cartoons), and animated sequences showing Cobain recording himself in his home, or appearing on local radio stations, or the infamous raging telephone message he left to a journalist.

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