July 20, 2015

Passed upon the stair

Cobain: Montage of Heck (Brett Morgen, 2015). It’s a pity Nick Broomfield used Kurt and Courtney as the title of his notorious conspiracy doco because it would have been a perfect fit for this mess, which is voyeuristic when it shows us its big prize, Cobain and Love’s junkie home movies, with the obnoxious Love already acting for posterity, always conscious of her legendary status, and merely exploitative when it shows us touching Super 8 footage and drawings from Cobain’s childhood, presumably stored for all those years by the family who didn’t want to know him when he was a teenager. Music comes a distant third, which is a problem because it was only within music that Cobain’s sense of humour and subversiveness were really on show (we’ve seen and heard enough of the Sid-and-Nancy doom stuff to last any number of lifetimes, and the punk rock notebook doodles and animations add little). Nirvana bass player Krist Novoselic talks far too briefly and, amazingly, Brett Morgen passed on including Dave Grohl. Buzz Osbourne has already talked about what he sees as the errors (“Cobain was a master of jerking your chain,” he says here) and other important contemporaries, such as Dylan Carlson, are missing. We’re at the 20-years-on phase of the myth-and-afterlife now, almost exactly the same point in the cycle that the Doors were at when Oliver Stone made his Jim Morrison movie. And that’s a sobering thought.