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Capone Gets used To The "Rare And Essential" KURT COBAIN: ABOUT A SON!!

Hey everyone. Capone in Chicago here. Making the film festival circuit since the 2006 Toronto Film Festival and the art house circuit since late last year is this insightful and sometimes chilling profile of Nirvana singer Kurt Cobain. It's almost impossible for me to believe that we're coming up on the 14th anniversary of Cobain's suicide, but as I watched this curious documentary, I was reminded of the many reasons I found the man such a fascinating and frustrating creature. Without the rights (or at least to money to acquire the rights) to any Nirvana songs and almost no images of Cobain in the film other than a few intense black-and-white shots of Nirvana in concert, director AJ Schnack (who made the fantastic They Might Be Giants' doc GIGANTIC: A TALE OF TWO JOHNS) has compiled a wholly different kind of music biopic. More like an impressionistic film about Cobain's world, ABOUT A SON allows Cobain to narrate his own story by compiling excerpts from more than 25 hours of audio interviews he did with music writer Michael Azerrad, who wrote the book “Come As You Are: The Story of Nirvana” (which features interviews with all three band members). You could spend days psychoanalyzing Cobain's often moody and temperamental exchanges with Azerrad, but it's clear he probably felt more free and open talking to this man above all other journalists. People have tended to focus on the more than one occasion that Cobain makes reference to "blowing his brains out," but there are far more tragic passages in this film, especially from later in his career when the press decided to make him and wife Courtney Love a target of ridicule and misinformation. The bombardment clearly made him understandably paranoid. Visually, Schnack chooses to show images of modern Seattle and surrounding Washington towns where Cobain lived and grew up in an effort to piece together an atmosphere of the singer's history rather than simply give a series of photos or video images of Cobain the child or budding young musician. It's an unusual way to make a film like this, especially since you don't even see Cobain's face in the film until about an hour in. Music documentaries are probably my favorite kind of docs, and I see so many conventional ones in a given year that it gets a bit tiresome. ABOUT A SON takes a bit of getting used to, but any shortcomings the movie may have seem overshadowed by so many uninterrupted minutes of listening to Cobain's articulate, confused, pained, funny, angry and uncensored voice. The film quickly made me realize how much I'd heard "about" him without actually hearing "from" him. This is a rare and essential film for any Nirvana and/or Cobain admirer.

Capone




Readers Talkback
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  • Jan. 11, 2008, 8:43 a.m. CST

    Come as you are...

    by HExTeXly

    No thanks...I'm good.

  • Jan. 11, 2008, 8:44 a.m. CST

    Nevermind...

    by ATARI

    <br>

  • Jan. 11, 2008, 8:46 a.m. CST

    Confusing ...

    by MrDagon

    Cobain was so successful, but o conflicted ... Never understood why he was so depressed.

  • Jan. 11, 2008, 9:20 a.m. CST

    Cobain should have explored the space more

    by ArcadianDS

    because I gotta be honest with ya, I was really diggin that cowbell man<p> explore the space.

  • Jan. 11, 2008, 9:23 a.m. CST

    Control, The Future is Unwritten, and now About a Son.

    by rbatty024

    2007 was a great year for films about musicians. Great review. I think impressionistic is a wonderful way to describe the film (or at least how I imagine the film to be, since it hasn't played near me yet). Fourteen years, really? Nirvana's short lifespan in the mainstream existed for me mostly during middle school. I think my grade was the very last to be truly affected by Nirvana during their meteoric rise and fall.

  • Jan. 11, 2008, 9:24 a.m. CST

    If he hated being famous so much he should have retired.

    by Stuntcock Mike

    Just walk away from it. A permanent solution to a temporary problem. Too bad.

  • Jan. 11, 2008, 9:42 a.m. CST

    by ThePilgrim

    I don't get this stomach pain. I have a Hiatal Hernia. A simple CT scan and endoscope found it. So when I hear "He was plagued by chronic stomach pain that doctors couldn't seem to diagnose, which led to his increased use of heroin to relief him from the pain"--------- I feel like screaming bullshit. People who USE- make excuses. Also where was the abdominal pain. It was probably IBS, which is bitch pain compared to a hiatal hernia. Try walking around all day with a abrassion/ trobbing/ deep knife stabbing/ tugging pain- in you left side just under your lower ribs, feeling like that area is gonna tear wide open. I would kill to have IBS. I had the symptoms of it for a few years, before the HH, but it cleared up.------------ Cobain can be summed up real simple like- Drugs played the biggest role. He didn't want to be a rock star or a father or a husband- he was tired of being a human being. He just wanted to do drugs, and it troubled him to no end, his life was turning to shit, and he said fuck it. I was into Nirvana before they exploded onto MTV- The Bleach album knocked me out. But I've moved on. I can't worship this guy anymore. It's like being grateful to a loss, and a Jesus he was not. He let his demons win. And he abandoned and hurt so many in the process. Again those close to him should have sought out A.A. or N.A. Cobain might still be here today and who knows what kind of him we might have- if he was off the damn drugs. Wish We knew the sober Cobain!

  • Jan. 11, 2008, 10:24 a.m. CST

    Suicide is for chicken-shit cowards

    by Baron Karza

    Its not fucking noble, its for cunts. Its selfish and it makes you a liar forever. I see the circular logic and I know depression. I still revel in Nirvanas music (Out of the Blue bootleg is awesome) but I dont worship cowards.

  • Jan. 11, 2008, 10:58 a.m. CST

    Cobains farts are more musically gifted then Nicklebacks

    by Quin the Eskimo

    entire catalog. Remember in 03 (?) when they released I Know Your Right (?). Kicked the ass of everything else on the radio. Pixies, then Nirvana did that quiet LOUD quiet sound so well. And nobody since Nirvana had even touched there quality. I hate everrthing.

  • Jan. 11, 2008, 11:05 a.m. CST

    Sounds like Node has it figured out

    by Baron Karza

    Throw around the word 'judgmental' while you pound your fist & judge is funny. Keep telling yourself that having a stand on things is being a sellout and crawl back in your hole. I will still see this doc, I still listen to Nirvana, and I still know suicide is for chicken shit cunts.

  • Jan. 11, 2008, 11:59 a.m. CST

    Karza, hopefully you'll change your mind on suicide...

    by IAmJack'sUserID

    and do the world a big favor, you judgmental (yes I used it...OMG) prick. I am sure lots of people here have had some experience with someone they know/love/are related to and suicide and for you to make it worse with your 3rd grade level insults shows what a true mindless cunt of a douche you truly are. Go bang your head against something really hard or sharp for us.

  • Jan. 11, 2008, noon CST

    It's a Doc

    by ThePilgrim

    It's a view into his view, and more than likely these interviews occurred while he was using. Why in god's name should anyone watch that.. Your not gonna gain any insight from a drunk on the bar stool, and Node alcoholism is a disease. Cobain could have grown up in a perfect household and still found himself in a bad place, ages later when he was in charge of his own life. Judgemental- no not really. I know the drunk and drug addict, cause I am a recovering one. Good, or Bad - Take responsibility for your own actions. No one pushes you do to anything. You always have choice. When your trapped in COP mode and all you want to do is get high and then you feel bad about it when your straight. You do shit like this. Love the music at one point idolized the man, now at 30 years of age. I just feel separated from the whole phenomenon that occurred. Intrigue enough to post I guess, not enough to watch it.

  • Jan. 11, 2008, 12:35 p.m. CST

    To all the self righteous people who attack someone...

    by rbatty024

    solely because of how he or she ended a life, I have a riddle. What does Kurt Cobain have in common with Meriwether Lewis, Sylvia Plath, Walter Benjamin, Hunter S. Thompson, Vincent Van Gogh, Judy Garland, Virginia Woolf, Robert E. Howard, and Ernest Hemingway? Yes, that's right, they accomplished more in their shortened lives than you ever will. <p> Condemn suicide all you want. It's a tragedy, but it's not something you should sneer at. You are not in someone else's shoes, and I doubt many of you are psychiatrists who understand the symptoms of depression. Unlike a physical disease like cancer, it's easy to look down on those who suffer from clinical depression, but it's something you should resist. It's very real and more often than not results from a chemical imbalance in the brain, not something the victim has control over. <p> As far as Kurt Cobain goes, as time goes by I've learned to love the music much more than the man. He was flawed, but that does not mean he didn't have some interesting things to say. His playfulness with gender roles profoundly affected how I looked at the fluidity of gender in our society, rather than seeing it as naturally fixed for everyone. I attribute this to the man and the music.

  • Jan. 11, 2008, 12:47 p.m. CST

    I hope the quotes aren't out of context...

    by canvasseamonkey

    you can make people sound really dumb that way. I want a movie where his closer friends and musicians are interviewed about how they thought he was murdered. Because that has interested me more.

  • Jan. 11, 2008, 3:29 p.m. CST

    Stay classy IAintJackShite

    by Baron Karza

    You sound like a typical 15yr old retard liar. Shouldnt you respond with something like 'pwned' or something? My original opinion was about the act of suicide. Seems to have hit a sweet spot with you. If you believe in its noble legacy you should try it. I hear it will make you a legend.. or a douche bag.

  • Jan. 11, 2008, 5:11 p.m. CST

    As my bones grew they did hurt, they hurt REALLY BAD

    by IForgotAbout19

    Teenage angst has paid off well, now I'm bored and old. Self-appointed judges judge, more than they have sold. Serve the servants

  • Jan. 11, 2008, 6:49 p.m. CST

    I will probably see this...

    by Rebus

    ...when it comes to Edinburgh. Had tix to see Nirvana in Glasgow Barrowlands in 1994 - nuf' said.

  • Jan. 11, 2008, 8:10 p.m. CST

    The Pretentious Extremes of Glam and Grunge

    by Lornsorrow

    In light of this news I saw a post last year talking about this very same project, where someone remarking that “"NIRVANA WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR GETTING THAT KRAP HAIR-METAL OFF OF RADIO AND MTV. THAT MADE WAY FOR OTHER MORE HEAVIER TYPES OF METAL." Though there may indeed be some truth to that, and maybe that is the complete and only perspective of some people who were kids during the grunge years (or were out of their heads at the time), its really only half the story. For those of us who opened our eyes and had to live through the fuckin hellish barren years of bumbed out, mopping around, pretentious grunge that tried to come off as inward-looking, serious-minded hard rock, it all ended with Cobain's clickkkkkk......bannnnnggg!!!! I’m not making fun of what he did. It was a harsh statement by Cobain and I remember how it shocked a lot of people. Suicide prevention hotlines were advertised as the news spread and the nation feared that fans would follow Cobain’s example. Shortly thereafter, real Metal, which had never truly died or gone away, once again was back stronger than ever, back with a vengeance. All those dark gray clouds of gloomy, unshowered, pretentious bullshit were finally gone and the Metal party was back on once again, after a hard lesson. Inward-looking, serious minded music is great, so long as one is ready to face what one might find when one looks deep enough. It’s best to build something first worth looking at, and then take a deep look. Yeah, things got pretty pathetic and frivolous with glam, but it was just as pathetic in the other extreme opposite direction with grunge. And ya know, its fun to listen to RATT or Pearl Jam once in a while, among others. Now, we have the nice, wide ranging selection of Metal and Rock that graces/curses this earth! Hopefully, the years of extreme pretentious bullshit on both sides are gone for good and we can enjoy the rich balance of music as it now is (especially online, there are so many choices), for many more years to come. Grunge was no better than Glam, both sucked for the most part. But of course, there are good bands in every genre. However, I can certainly think of people far, far more worthy of doing a biopic on than Cobain! Nostalgia can be fine, but lets not forget the lessons that were taught to us by the pretentious extremes of glam and grunge.

  • Jan. 11, 2008, 10:57 p.m. CST

    saw nirvana new years 91'/92

    by irrelevntelefant

    chili peppers headlined. primus was supposed to open, with nirvana in the middle. primus dropped off the bill, so nirvana recommended another northwest band that hadn't hit big time yet to open- pearl jam. i spent the whole night slam dancing and moshing, it was FUCKING AWESOME!!!

  • Jan. 11, 2008, 11:31 p.m. CST

    lornsorrow, speaking of pretentious...

    by irrelevntelefant

    you should re-read your post. <p> i was more than fucking happy to see 80's hair bands fucking disappear from the radio dial<p> nirvana, soundgarden, pearl jam, alice in chains, stp- all solid rock bands. better than most of the current watered down, ball-less, pop-rock of the last 10 years <p> and just curious, but what post grunge bands are you refering to when you say "the Metal party was back on once again" and "Now, we have the nice, wide ranging selection of Metal and Rock" <p> as for pretentious... every great rock band is fucking pretentious- Zeppelin, the Stones, the Who, Van Halen (DLR days).... who wants to listen to unpretentious rock?

  • Jan. 12, 2008, 8:23 a.m. CST

    correction

    by PrettyNursePoppy

    "It's almost impossible for me to believe that we're coming up on the 14th anniversary of Cobain's suicide" <p> Probably because we're actually coming up on the 14th anniversary of his murder. Someone needs to make a movie about that. Well, I guess Gus Van Zandt did. But a better one.

  • Jan. 12, 2008, 10:06 a.m. CST

    Cobain WAS A PUSSY!

    by EvilDoeR

    Flat out fuck him I hope he rotts in hell! Anyone who's such a pussy that they would blow their own heads off doesn't deserve our pitty. Especially some rich closet fag like Cobain! All you fags who listen to his music should follow him, and kill yourself's.

  • Jan. 12, 2008, 1 p.m. CST

    evil doer, very thoughtful and insightful

    by irrelevntelefant

    don't you have puppies to rape somewhere?

  • Jan. 12, 2008, 8:14 p.m. CST

    Fuck Cobain

    by mrmgp

    Asshole was a no-talent loser who was damn near unintelligible behind a microphone. I'd rather listen to this http://www.rathergood.com/moon_song/ nonstop for 24 straight hours than put up with one minute of that loser Cobain screaming and groaning into a microphone. Good riddance to the loser. Should have given a blow job to a shotgun much sooner than he did.

  • Jan. 13, 2008, 2:31 a.m. CST

    iforgotabout19

    by i kick tits

    Amen

  • Jan. 13, 2008, 3:59 a.m. CST

    panterarocks

    by i kick tits

    Hallelujah

  • Jan. 13, 2008, 7:01 p.m. CST

    For those thinking Cobain was murdered

    by XxSoulFlyxX

    He was...he committed suicide by his own hand. That is also murder. So get over it and accept it. He talked about suicide, he was severely depressed and was a freaking huge heroine addict and he hated what his own music became and what he tried to get away from, but his fans turned into exactly what he hated.

  • Jan. 15, 2008, 12:35 a.m. CST

    I graduated in '92. what a f'ing time to grow up

    by GQtaste

    time to come of age w/ the music that was just starting to hit the mainstrain. I admit I was more into Peal Jam but and didn't like Nirvana...... To be honest, looking back I wasn't prepared for what Cobain had put together on record! It blew my hair back, so to speak. It was like the guy was expressing things I could never come up w/ myself. Like he was my interputer(sp?). What he was singing about in Litham(sp?) I felt about my love life w/ my girl at or around 20 to 26 yrs old. Hell, maybe much longer. Point is, imo he's the closest thing we've had to John Lennon sinse Lennon.... I know that's a bold statment but I truly feel that way. That type of dude doesn't come around every couple of decads. And maybe that's a good thing. That' not to say it wasn't depressng as hell to listen to Nirvana. It takes a certain type of mood to by in. But when I hear the Bowie cover, "Man who sold the world" something happens to me I can't explain. That whole unplugged gig was one in a million! Top-shelf! Man I would have loved to see what he would have dones differently musically over the years. B/c he hinted at that. Totally changing directions and whatnot. But we'll never know sadly.