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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Review: Dig!

This film should have been called Bathe! (Thank you!). Dig! is the tragic story of what happens when twenty-something stoners cut their own hair. The Brian Jonestown Massacre and The Dandy Warhols could have used some of that sweet record company scratch to get a shampoo and style at Supercuts.

Director Ondi Timoner did an excellent job mixing textures and styles, making much of the hand-held digital camera work look substantial. Many events are captured on film, and between both bands there's nobody with enough class to keep their mouth shut or not act as dumb as possible, so the narrative is pretty much always backed up with visual evidence. It's a fun movie to watch even if you couldn't care less for neo-psychedelic 60's nostalgia (The Joneses) and alternative pop (The Dandies).

The major players are lead members Anton Newcombe (Jonestown) and Courtney Taylor (Dandies). Anton is a loathsome prick, an insane genius if you like the crap music he writes, otherwise just a mental case who whines on stage and off like a child in the back seat of a car when his brother touches him. The movie ends on the note that Anton is not allowed to see his newly born son. He's of the "I'm Jesus and my farts are new rock classics" school, while Courtney is a nice enough but gap-toothed pretty boy who let's his record label blow $400,000.00 of his future earnings on a video so hysterically wrong there's Busby Berkeley dancers with cardboard hypodermic needles for bodies above the waist.

Between the two bands there hasn't been so much tambourine shaking since The Partridge Family weekend marathon on TV Land. The Joneses have a member, Joel Gion, who goes by the title "Spokesman For The Revolution". He plays the tambourine, sings (I think) and wears women's oversized plastic sunglasses. I kept imagining a "kick me" sign on his forehead that's a command, not a suggestion.

Genesis P'Orridge takes a break from hormone treatments to say The Brian Jonestown Massacre are the greatest thing since collagen injections. Dig! is very funny if you like to watch bad things happen to stupid people. There's a number of Spinal Tap moments, and enough idiocy to satisfy any reality show junkie. The Massacre's first album for a major is rejected because it doesn't have any "songs". Anton intentionally ruins an industry showcase gig by screaming and fist fighting his own band members. Then there's the horrific "Not If You Were The Last Junkie On Earth" video by the Dandies.

In the end The Dandies, the "lesser" of the two bands even in the eyes of Courtney Taylor, prove the commercial and charismatic winners, touring Europe after a song of theirs appears in a foreign commercial (another Spinal Tap touch). Their music isn't even that bad, whereas Anton strums a sitar, blows a harmonica and plays guitar like Dylan to create a whole lot of nothing certain people find amazing. His big comeback finds him unable to play because he's too busy complaining, and then he's arrested for kicking some audience dude in the head in what has to be the most telegraphed move in martial arts history.

My money was on the film ending with Anton dying somehow. He's still alive. What an anti-climax. Great, more crap from a genius for who knows how long.


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