Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Anton Newcombe, Courtney Taylor-Taylor, Joel Gion, Matt Hollywood, Peter Holmstrom
Director: Ondi Timoner
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Documentary
Seven years in the making and culled from over 1500 hours of footage, DIG! plunges into the underbelly of rock ?n? roll, unearthing an incredible true story of success and self-destruction. Anton A. Newcombe of the Brian J... more »
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Everything thats right & wrong with the music industry
Clare Quilty | a little pad in hawaii | 01/28/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Sure, "Metallica: Some Kind of Monster" got all the love in 2004, but my favorite rock-doc-as-car-crash of last year was this: "DiG!"
Seven-some years in the making, it's director Ondi Timoner's crazy love letter to two men -- Anton Newcombe, leader of The Brian Jonestown Massacre; and Courtney Taylor, head of the Dandy Warhols. Both groups ignited like Apollo 11's on the launch pad of the 1990s music scene but slowly sputtered back down to the ground just as spectacularly.
Newcombe seems like a musical genius who can't resist imploding at the worst possible times and places, while Taylor has the drive and accessibility to succeed without the crucial spark of crazed brilliance. Their friendship/rivalry takes a lot of turns during the course of this film, which was mostly recorded on handheld cameras as the events unfolded.
Everything that's right and wrong with the music industry is here: the inescapable mechanics of the game; the perils of drugs, egomania, overambition, pride and possession of mass quantities of obnoxiousness. Anybody who thinks they might want to make music for money should see this film first.
Plus, there's a lot of great, entertaining footage here: Newcombe's ill-advised handling of a Georgia roadcheck; a run-in with David LaChappelle; and especially the BJM's disastrous, Andy Kaufman-esque meltdown in front of record execs at the Viper Room (you gotta love any fight scene that ends with "motherf----r broke my sitar, man!").
The movie's only significant weakness the fact that Taylor voices the film narration. Yes, he was there and can comment on the events unfolding with a distinct air of authority, but his reading also gives the lines an unignorable bias. It's a regretable slip that tilts the movie to a slightly unfair angle, but it doesn't sink "DiG!"
Plus, this movie had one of my favorite supporting "performances" of the year: long-suffering BJM sideman Joel Gion. If he doesn't parlay this movie into a career as a comedy star, he's not trying hard enough."
BJM are all the better for it
alexander laurence | Los Angeles, CA | 04/17/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This interesting movie is about the vital history of two bands: The Brian Jonestown Massacre and The Dandy Warhols. Although it pretends to cover seven years in time, it is mostly about when these two bands were signed by major and indie labels in 1996 and 1997. People like myself who were journalists at the time, with Cups Magazine and Free Williamsburg Online have already covered most of the history of these bands. They were in magazines a lot. I interviewed Anton Newcombe back in 2001. That interview and others like it is perhaps all someone has to know about him. The music speaks for itself. I have seen this film twenty times now. I saw an early cut of it with Anton sitting next to me. First off I have to say that I have mixed feelings about it.
First off I think it is great cinema and must be seen. Anton Newcombe has been making music his whole life and has been able to revive the sprit and heart of bands like The Velvet Underground and The Jesus and Mary Chain. He was doing this music fifteen years ago. Today almost every garage band is making this similar minded music. Today a lot of bands are safe, polite, and business-like. Anton somehow has embraced the rock and roll myth and has updated it. His music, and not his behavior, is always the most important thing though.
Secondly I reject the whole Oprah-esque, pop psychology tone of this film. Director Ondi Timoner has suggested that Anton Newcombe is a product of a broken home and that is the reason why he seems so angry and uncompromising. The Dandy Warhols are portrayed as a bunch of well-adjusted post-hippies who get along with everyone and know how to succeed. Like their good souls and parents somehow relate to outward success. I have known Anton Newcombe for twenty years and have known nothing about his parents and his drugs habits. Anton has always been a person who liked to confront people. He likes to argue. That is his nature. Anton has always been a person who loves music. He is a songwriter above everything else.
It seems like The Dandy Warhols do just as much drugs as any other band. So much for their healthy habits. They don't fight with their audiences and fight with each other. They seemed bored most of the movie. They are like some spoiled privileged children who expect attention. Director Ondi Timoner has said, "There are perfectly functional people that make great art, Like Courtney and the Dandys." I think it's a little premature to say the Dandys have made "great art." They are not the Beatles, Brian Wilson, or Bob Dylan, who are really great artists. Anton himself has made twelve albums. You can't be dysfunctional and write that many songs. Who is Timoner kidding? The Dandys are not even selling as many records as Interpol, The Killers, or Green Day. The Dandys still play small venues in America that new bands with one album play.
I guess that Anton made the mistake of getting into a fight every time Timoner had the cameras on. I have seen Anton play twenty times or more and there were no fights. Some of the footage shot with hidden cameras is an evasion of privacy. On the other hand, according to Zia McCabe, Timoner deleted many stupid comments that The Dandys made. She made them look good always if she had the chance. The commentary by Ondi Timoner is a good chance to show off her baby and nothing else. Why that Nina A&R chick is in the film more than once is beyond me. I heard that she is Ondi's best friend or something. It would have been better to have other bands and fellow musicians talk about BJM and less A&R people.
Timoner is very dishonest about the origins of the film as well. She has said "This project (was) about bands negotiating the route between art and commerce..." That is a lame and vague description, and could be made about any film. As I have heard this film was originally about BJM and a few other bands, all of which are no longer together. Newcombe suggested that she should do a film about his band and the Dandys, because the rest of the bands she chose didn't matter. As can be seen in the film, Timoner tells Newcombe that she have never heard of the Dandy Warhols. How could she have thought of a film about these two bands if she hadn't heard of one of them before she started shooting? Now we can only wonder why Newcombe has dismissed the film as an exercise in Jerry Springer technique.
Newcombe has other points of the film to contend with. He thinks that not enough of his music is represented. Every song gets cut off after thirty seconds. There are a few live songs by BJM on the bonus DVD but not the great videos they have done. It's unclear to me what happens in Georgia. When BJM gets busted in Georgia, it was really Ondi Timoner herself who was alledgely busted for marijuana. Newcombe was only cited for an expired license. On the commentary all people are very quiet or edited out at this point. Police in Kansas stopped me once in 1996, so I know how it is. This is one of the main points of the film. BJM are so damn unlucky, while the successful and lucky Dandys only get a ticket in France. The other problem with the film is that Timoner just focuses on two years with BJM while she shows eight years of the Dandys. There is footage from a live performance in 2003, but it is only live footage of the Sunset Junction gig. There is not a lot of footage from the past three years. I guess Anton wasn't beating up anyone then, so it was not worthy of the film? People tend to act up when the cameras are running. If BJM had fifty members in its twelve years of existence we only saw about ten members. We only got 20% of the story.
Anton Newcombe has done his best work in the past three years. BJM has played hundreds of shows in America, Canada, and the UK. At the end of this film you get a feeling that BJM has broken up and Anton has died. This is not even close to the truth. Anton is not even on the DVD commentary (neither is Peter Hayes). About the DVD he is as silent as he was when listening to "Junkie." His band has been the launching pad for about artists such as BRMC, Miranda Lee Richards and The Warlocks. His influence is still enormous and inspiring. I don't really see the same inspiring hotbed of creative activity from the Dandy Warhols. They just seem like a bunch of smug, rich kids, or social climbers, who when they got in the door, using the BJM ladder, they just kicked the ladder away. This movie is just a weathermap. The real art is the music of Brian Jonestown Massacre and Anton Newcombe. That music written by Anton will be the only thing that will ever be considered art connected to this film. Even The Dandys agree with that sentiment in the film. The Dandys are nothing but a pop group. They are just another band.
People who see this film can only be more interested in BJM. People who like The Dandys are not going to think more of them having seen this film. It's sad to see Joel Gion on the cover of the DVD. I know that he plays the fool to Anton's tortured genius. But it's like seeing Jack Kerouac and Neil Cassidy on the cover of On The Road. The author is reduced to a supporting role in the book he has written.
I suggest getting some of the BJM CDs as well. They are wonderful.
Great film but neither is god-like
raymond bassett | 05/23/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I lived in Portland saw the Dandy Warhols early on and thought that they were cool because they approximated a music I was always into, 60's psychedelia, and they brought their own sensibilities to it. I had the same reacton to the Brian Jonestown Massacre when I heard their early records. Anything that references that kind of 60's swirl in music is fine by me and I gravitate to it - Reasons I am fans of both bands -
I would never claim that either of these bands has a one up on the other one because I don't think either band is one of the alltime greats and I don't care how either achieved their musical goals concerning the reasons given. I don't care about b.s. arguments that claim "hey, man BJM is great because they were prolific and didn't sell out" or the Dandies were great because "they found a way to make it work and that's what you have to do." At the end of the day, all you are left with is the music and if you like it great, but the suggested argument that separates the two (one sold out, one didn't) is bogus. All the bands from the 60' sold out (whatever the hell that means) at one time or another and the ones who didn't wished they had. So what? Any entertainment deal involves a deal with the devil at some level and to suggest otherwise, or that the people who make "unheard" music are somehow "more pure" is nonsense. Why sign a record deal at all, in that case, if everything that comes from that intial decision is a frickin slippery slope to being compromised? IT HAS ALWAYS BEEN THUS.
As to the hyberbole of the movie as if it is pitting two super bands against each other, the "5 years ahead of their time" is good rhetoric, but nothing more. Supporters of both bands can claim the Dandies' or BJM influence on music all day long, but as both were so influenced themselves (and never sold many records) who can claim a rightful timeline as to their either band's influence on anyone, unless you're talking about the heirs to BJM, none of which has had that much success on the kind of level the film wants us to accept.
To stress again, I am a fan of both bands, and I loved the movie, but the resulting success vs. sell out argument is, ultimately, a tired and worn out cliche from an era that, ironically or not, had great influence on both bands."
I wanted more videos!
Reader | Boca Raton, FL | 09/14/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"First time I learned about "Dandy Warhols" music group was when I saw (not so good) "9 Songs" movie. They were one of the featured bands and their video was in Special edition portion of the DVD. And then, I thought they were British only to learn (after this documentary) that they are from Potland, Oregon. What I definitely did not know is all the rivalry between them and the other band "Brian Jonestown Massacre" that turns out to be a really fine band too. Both bands are very talented but also very different too. I wanted to see more videos and performances from both groups. It is definitely not a "Ramones" movie - which of course is a let down. Skip the movie, get the CD music. You will miss watching the beautiful Courtney Taylor and handsome Anton Newcombe, but you will at least enjoy music that both bands - in their own way - are good at. There - I said it."