Wednesday, February 28, 2007

C.S.A: The Confederate States of America

I saw this Mockumentary last year at the Athens Film Festival, and it was the highlight of the week for me. This movie is hilariously funny, but also makes you feel very dirty for laughing. The basic premise is the question of what would have happened if the Confederacy won the Civil War. The cornerstone is of course, slavery, but the movie also addresses many other "what ifs." Despite some probable inaccuracies, it paints a very entertaining and poignant commentary.

This movie is certainly to be taken more as entertainment than historical fact, simply for the fact that none of it actually happened. After the Confederacy won the Civil War, they continued on and occupied the Union. Even though it seems unlikely that slavery would have continued even to today, in the movie it did. The movie discusses potential changes in outcome to events of the 20th century. For example, the Holocaust was averted because the president of the CSA convinced Hitler that the Jews would be more useful as slaves. In America even, Jewish people were sequestered on reserves on Long Island. These alternate scenarios are somewhat comparable to the successfull book "Freakonomics", which discusses alternative reasons for various economic conditions.

My favorite part was that it was shown as if it were on TV. This meant frequent commercial interruptions. The products advertised were, of course, all either pertaining to slaves (the Slave Shopping Network) or of an extremely racist nature. The sad part, we later find out, is that most of the products advertised actually existed, many as little as twenty years ago. These sections were actually much more powerful than the fake history. These showed that even a century after slavery was abolished, racism was still potent.

The movie makes an attempt at actually backing up its claims of what would have happened, citing plans that Southerners in power had for after the war, and even documents that gave validity to the Confederacy even being able to win. It is interesting how even the small details were addressed. Eugenics not only became acceptable, but was never debunked. Lincoln, one of our most beloved presidents, died at an old age in exile. He was even subjected to parody in the first motion picture. Writer/Director Kevin Wilmott seems to leave no subject untouched.

It's okay to laugh at this movie. It really is- it's supposed to be funny. I laughed, and that was in a sold-out movie theater. But I must warn you- you will feel awkward, and you will think that you shouldn't be laughing. The thing that Wilmott does better than anything else, is that he pulls no punches. The movie is extremely offensive, and that's why it works. If it were any tamer, it would be almost more offensive. This way, there is no chance it would be interpreted as serious. It's an obvious satire. I feel that this movie is worth watching, maybe even more than once. It will make you feel dirty, and it will make you feel like a bad person, but it's oh so good.


Monday, February 26, 2007

Oscar Night

Here's my opinions on the awards. Feel free to weigh in with your own thoughts in the comments section.

Best Documentary Feature
Winner- an Inconvenient Truth
Jesus Camp
Deliver us From Evil
Iraq in Fragments
"P.O.V.: My Country My Country"

Nobody can say that they did not expect this one to win. It's difficult for me to weigh in on this (as will be most of the categories) because I only saw two of them- an Inconvenient Truth and Jesus Camp. Even though I feel Jesus Camp was a more well-made piece of cinema, an actual documentary as opposed to a lecture, nobody can deny the importance of an Inconvenient Truth.

Best Animated Short

Winner- The Danish Poet
The Little Matchgirl
No Time For Nuts

I disagree strongly with this category. I feel Maestro should have won hands down (the reason I had it as my featured web video). Not only that, but I felt that the Danish Poet was the weakest of the bunch. The animation was weak, and the story was not intriguing.

Best Foreign Language Film

Winner- Das Leben Der Anderen
Efter bryilpuppet
El Laberinto del Fauno

I only saw Pan's Labyrinth out of this group, but if you read my review of it, you could tell I loved it. From what I heard people were shocked that it didn't win this category. All I know is that it really makes me want to see The Lives of Others now.

Best Animated Feature

Winner- Happy Feet
Monster House

This is a crime- on more than one count. Happy Feet was not an award winning movie. The animation was fantastic, but the story was not. Out of the nominated movies Cars should have won. The animation was great, but it was also fun to watch for everyone, not just little children. The second crime here is the nominees themselves. Only three nominated films? How could they leave out Over the Hedge- my favorite animated film of the year, or Flushed Away, Ardman's first venture into 3D animation. Bah, time to move on.

Best Achievement in Visual Effects

Winner- Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
Superman Returns

Hands down the right movie won. ILM created some of the best visual effects I've seen. Davey Jones, his entire crew, and everything else. Poseidon was certainly impressive. I went to a lecture on fluid animation dynamics by several of the visual effects artists from this movie, and was captivated by some of what they created. In the end, though, there was no competition.

Best Achievement in Sound Editing

Winner- Letters from Iwo Jima
Blood Diamond
Flags of Our Fathers
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

This one is hard for me to judge, since this is not something I generally watch for. Of the ones that I saw (the winner not one of them) I was most struck my Apocalypto's sound in general.

Best Achievement in Sound
Winner- Dreamgirls
Blood Diamond
Flags of Our Fathers
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

See above

Best Achievement in Makeup

Winner- El Laberinto del Fauno

The best movie won, no question- and how in the world did Click get nominated for anything?

Best Original Song

Winner- "I need to Wake up" Melisa Etheridge- An Inconvenient Truth
"Listen" Henry Krieger, Scott Cutler, Anne Preven- Dreamgirls
"Love You I Do" Henry Krieger, Siedah Garrett- Dreamgirls
"Patience" Henry Krieger, Willie Reale- Dreamgirls
"Our Town" Randy Newman- Cars

I did like the Melissa Etheridge song, and I haven't seen Dreamgirls. It just seems almost a little absurd that a movie that has three songs up for best original song did not have any of them win.

Best Score

Winner: Babel
The Good German
Notes on a Scandal
El Laberinto del Fauno
The Queen

Of the movies I saw, I feel that Babel was the best. The score was one of the most intriguing parts of the movie.

Costume Design

Winner: Marie Antionette
Man cheng jin dai huang jia
The Devil Wears Prada
The Queen

I don't know, I haven't seen any of them, though from the trailers, Marie Antionette looked fabulous.

Art Direction

Winner: El Laberinto del Fauno
The Good Shepherd
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
The Prestige

I must say that I am not dissappointed with the winner. Pan's Labyrinth had fantastic art direction. The sets were whimsical. I feel that the Prestige brought me into the world it created a little bit better however, and would have gotten my vote.

Best Achievement in Editing

Winner: The Departed
Blood Diamond
Children of Men
United 93

Children of Men was robbed. It was deprived a best picture nod, and a best director nod. I was hoping they would at least give it the award for editing since Alfonso Cuaron was also the editor, but alas- this was the Departed's year.


Winner: El Laberinto del Fauno
The Black Dahlia
Children of Men
The Illusionist
The Prestige

Like art direction, I feel this should have gone first to the Prestige, then the Illusionist. Both of these movies were beautiful- with each shot being a work of art. I am not saying that Pan's Labyrinth was not- but just not as much as the other two.

Adapted Screenplay

Winner: The Departed
Children of Men
Little Children
Notes on a Scandal

Again, I'm only seen two of these. I feel that Children of Men should have won. The nomination of Borat, however struck me as interesting and surprising. It made me mildly happy that even though a movie like this had no chance of winning, the academy is still willing to nominate movies like that.

Original Screenplay

Winner: Little Miss Sunshine
Letters from Iwo Jima
El Laberinto del Fauno
The Queen

This is a strong group of movies. They all seemed very very good. I think it would have been close between Babel and Little Miss Sunshine for me. I'm kind of glad it went the way it did. Little Miss Sunshine was dark, but still uplifting. It was just so well written.


Winner: Martin Scorsese- The Departed
Clint Eastwood- Letters from Iwo Jima
Sephen Frears- The Queen
Paul Greengrass- United 93
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu- Babel

'Bout bloody time- that's all I have to say

Supporting Actress

Winner: Jennifer Hudson- Dreamgirls
Adriana Barraza- Babel
Cate BLanchett- Notes on a Scandal
Abigail Breslin- Little Miss Sunshin
Rinko Kikuchi- Babel

Adriana Barraza stole the movie for me. She was so powerfull, and so convinging I would have nominated her for best lead actress- and probably given her that one. Rinko Kikuchi was also very good, as was Abigail Berslin, of course (she'll have quite a career). I am trully dissapointed, however, that Barraza was overlooked.

Best Supporting Actor

Winner: Alan Arkin- Little Miss Sunshine
Jackie Earle Haley
Little Children
Djimon Hounsou- Blood Diamond
Eddie Murphy- Dreamgirl
Mark Wahlberg- The Departed

I really don't know. Alan Arkin was fantastic, but so was Mark Wahlberg and Djimon Hounsou. From what I heard Eddie Murphy was even the frontrunner. I think I would have given it to Hounsou, however.

Best Leading Actress

Winner: Helen Mirren- The Queen
Penelope Cruz- Volver
Judi Dench- Notes on a Scandal
Meryl Streep- The Devil Wears Prada
Kate Winslet- Little Children

Again, I haven't seen any of them

Best Leading Actor

Winner: Forest Whitaker- Last King of Scotland
Leonardo DiCaprio- Blood Diamond
Ryan Gosling- Half Nelson
Peter O'Toole- Venus
Will Smith- The Pursuit of Happyness

This one was not surprising either. Forest Whitaker was amazing in this movie. As you can see in my review, he was the strongest part of the mediocre movie. Will Smith was deserving in his powerfull role as well. Interestingly, however, I think I would have given it to Leonardo DiCaprio. He truly mastered his role in Blood Diamond- and after seeing it I thought about just how good he was.

Best Picture

Winner: The Departed
Letters From Iwo Jima
Little Miss Sunshine
The Queen

I'm happy that the Departed won, though I think I would have been happy if any of them one. Babel was good, but I honestly don't think it was best picture quality. I have yet to see the Queen or Letter from Iwo Jima. I was thrilled to see a nod for Little Miss Sunshine. I was very surprised that a dark commedy like that would get a nomination. I was almost hoping for a win for that one, even though I know it had no shot.

There you have it, my thoughts on the Oscars. Please leave your oppinions. I'm really interested in what anyone who reads this has to say.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Cruise

The anti-cruise is an attempt to imprison us. At every level of living it exists. Younger cruisers have asked me, "Why?" "Why is the anti-cruise so avaricious and constant in its attempt to stop the cruise? And I have no answer. There is no answer. I mean, it's gravitational, it's a relationship that's made up of reciprocals and pulling gravities. It simply exists. Where there is cruise there is an escort of anti-cruise. But even in a bastion of anti-cruise fodder... there is cruise. Somewhere in there is a sparkle of cruising energy. Deeply sublimated, within the bellowing belly of the beast.

This is a small diatribe from one of the most fascinating people that I have ever seen on film. I'm really digging into the vault to bring out this 1998 documentary, but it genuinely is one of my favorite movies of all time. Directed by Bennett Miller (who made his feature debut with Capote last year), The Cruise follows Timothy "Speed" Levitch. He gained the nickname because of his rapid fire speaking. This seems to work well in his profession of choice- a tour guide on a double Decker bus in New York City.

Levitch is genuine. From what I have read, how he is portrayed is exactly how he is. He has an intense love for New York City, considering his relationship with the city more as a marriage than living arrangements. He describes the city as a living being, which if you ask any New Yorker, they'll say it is. Much of the movie follows him on his tours rambling about the unknown sites and history of New York at a mile a minute. Some people on the bus laugh uncomfortably, but most adore him.

The quote at the beginning sums up his ideas on life. The title refers to the life force that he perceives to control all. He chooses to flow with it and let it guide him through life- ignoring all obstructions. He also references the 'Anti-cruise', which is any sort of obstacle that hampers the cruise. This has come to him in the form of physical and mental barriers. In one occasion he met the anti-cruise in the form of the police.

The movie does not necessarily portray him as a hero, even though I feel that's how many interpreted it. It simply portrays him as an interesting character, and that he is. The Cruise is reminiscent of Richard Linklater and his style of story telling found in Waking Life (which actually featured a scene with Levitch) and Before Sunrise. Like those movies, the Cruise is very dialog heavy. Except for a half-dozen characters, the only person on screen is Levitch himself. The entire movie functions as a forum for his rants. It may not seem enticing to listen to someone ramble for two hours on screen, but trust me, he never bores. Never. In addition to his role in Waking Life, he also had a small role in the recent take on Macbeth, Scotland PA

I had a difficult time tracking down this movie a few years ago. A used VHS copy sent me back almost $40 on eBay, and that was the cheapest I could find it. It should be easier now, however. With Miller hitting critical and commercial gold in Capote, the Cruise has been released now on DVD. Watch it, as soon as possible. I fell confident in saying that this is one of my favorite movies of all time. Five is not a high enough rating for this.


Monday, February 12, 2007

Duck Season

This was a delightful comedy that flew under the radar in 2004. Perhaps the reason it was not as accessible was because it was entirely in Spanish (something I did not know before watching it). It seems that subtitled comedies don't do as well. I hesitate to call this a comedy, because there was only one moment I laughed aloud at- and this was after the credits. It's more a study of day to day problems, and how life is fun despite all of its bleakness.

The story follows two best friends, Flama (Daniel Miranda) and Moko (Diego Catano) as they are left alone for the day. Things are going fine until a series of events starts happening. The power flickers on and off- disrupting their video-gaming, a neighbor teen, Rita (played strongly by Danny Perea) comes over to use their kitchen to bake a cake, and of course the pizza delivery man who won't leave (Enrique Arreola). There is some sort of discrepancy with his timeliness and payment.

The four of them spend the entire day together, forming a bond, but still not truly understanding each other. Over the course of the afternoon the two boys take another towards adulthood, Rita starts experimenting in several ways, and the pizza man starts to seriously rethink his life. It may be cliched in that everybody grows a bit, and learns something about themselves. At the end, however, you don't know if anything is going to change. It grows steadily more somber towards the end.

It's interesting how writer/director Fernando Eimbcke manages to paint four distinct characters and their lives all in the course of a single afternoon. I could easily see this as a stage production. He efficiently uses space to keep them as separate characters, but also as one unifying group.

I was surprised to learn that this was actually produced by Alfonso Cuaron (my pick for director of the year with Children of Men). This is significantly different and more low keyed than his normal projects (comparable to Steven Soderberg and his independent endeavour "Bubble"- which I'll probably review some time). The part that may prevent some people from enjoying this is certainly cultural differences. Subtle cultural humor can be lost on different audiences. I know there was a lot I did not understand. I think it focuses enough on the development of the characters to make it a strong film even if some of it goes over your head.


Sunday, February 11, 2007

Pan's Labyrinth

I find myself wondering why this was not nominated for best picture. It is Mexico's submission for best foreign film, but I think it could have easily competed in the top category. This movie was fascinating, dark, and at times hard to watch. It was billed as a fairy tale for grownups, and that's exactly what it is. It follows in the traditional of old fairy tales which were violent, gruesome, and not always happy- unlike the Disney'd versions that we've all come to expect. I saw this movie on a Friday night in a college town. I was thrilled to see that even in a setting where most people would probably rather go out drinking, there were two sold-out showings of it. This movie gives me faith that there is still room for truly imaginative cinema.

The story follows Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) a twelve year old girl fascinated with fairy tales, and her pregnant mother (Ariadna Gil), as they move into the mountains to live with her new father (Sergi Lopez) who is a cruel captain in Franco's army. It takes place in 1944, and the captain is stationed there to quell a rebellion. Almost immediately upon arriving, Ofelia discovers a labyrinth with strange creatures in it. The opening monologue indicates that there is a princess of the underworld that became lost in humanity, and her family is waiting for her return. Ofelia follows a series of tests to see if she is indeed this princess. This foray into fantasy (as difficult as it is) provides an escape to the horrible life at the hands of her new father.

There are two parallel stories at work here- one is with Ofelia and the fantasy world, and the other is with the captain and the rebellion. As with many fairy tales, a dark and cruel world is painted and the fantasy provides a foil with hope. In this case, the dark real world is the captain and the Spanish civil war. The movie features some rather disturbing scenes of torture, sealing the fact that this is a story for adults, and not a fairy tale for children. I actually had difficulty watching a few shots. Guillermo Del Toro does a fantastic job of juxtaposing the two worlds against each other- creating the idea of fantasy in a world where as Ofelia's mother puts it, "There is no magic."

My only complaint about how the movie was done was that I feel it over romanticized the Spanish Civil War. The captain was bad- very bad, and the rebels were good- entirely good. I immediately distrust anything that so blatantly tries to focus my sympathies like that. I suppose, though, that this is above all else, a fantasy movie. This means that you should suspend your disbelief and accept the world he creates, instead of imposing historical accuracy on it.

The acting was superb. It's so refreshing to see a movie with a cast that I've never heard of. Ivana Baquero was seriously a star. She had incredible emotional range, and was convincing in everything that she did. Most of the other characters seemed fairly one dimensional, but she was outstandingly deep. I honestly would not have been surprised by a best actress nod for her. Adriana Gil, who plays her mother had a bit of a smaller role, but handled it amply. I think Sergi Lopez was the weakest, but only because his role was the most shallow.

This movie is visually stunning. I believe it's up for an Oscar in Art Direction as well as Make-up. I strongly feel it deserves the make-up. It's original and a bit disturbing. The only part that bugged me was Guillermo's reliance on a certain editing technique that briefly took me out of the movie. You can tell that if I'm digging that deep for negative criticism, the movie was awfully good.

In the end, it's actually debatable whether it's happy or sad. Does it want you to focus on the innocence of imagination, or the cruelties of the world? Honestly, I don't know. I have my own thoughts, but each person can easily have different ones. I'd love for your thoughts on this one. If it gives away anything, however, put a spoiler warning on it so people who haven't seen it won't read it.


Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Dust to Glory

"I was in third place overall. I lost 45 minutes riding on a flat." This was said over and over again by "Mouse" McCoy, undeniably the main character and hero of this documentary. Dust to Glory is about the Baja 1000, an annual 1000 mile race just over the Mexican border. This race has hundreds of competitors, is intense, and is fascinating to watch. I had been interested in this movie ever since I saw Dana Brown's previous documentary, Step into Liquid. It may be simply that I found this subject more interesting, but I feel that he has improved this time out.

The movie bounces back and forth between a vast array of characters, the main focus being on the motorcycle racers (though it does feature buggies, trucks, and other vehicles as well). This gets a little confusing. Even now I'm not positive which people were involved in which scenes. There was no mistaking our hero, though. Most teams switch off riders every few hundred miles, but McCoy went against all odds, and raced all 1000 miles alone. This led to some very intense scenes of him barely managing to keep his bike upright- though as he would tell anyone who would listen, he was in third for most of the race.

This movie has two strong points. It is visually magnificent, and it has great characters. Aside from the racers, it features a colorful group of enthusiasts. There's Coco, the one legged Mexican rancher, who's homestead is always a checkpoint. Or there's the Weatherman, who volunteers to spend the night perched atop Mount Diablo to serve as the race's base of communications, radioing between support crews, emergency workers, and whoever else needs him.

The fantastic part about this movie is the photography. Gigantic trucks roaring through the Baja wilderness, and motorcycles racing at nearly 100 miles an hour at night, with only a small circle of light to show the way. These shots are amazing. Portions of this course are on open roads, so the vehicles are darting through public traffic. Spectators also crowd around, flanking the course, within feet of the vehicles themselves (some darting across the rout at the last minute). Some of the point of view footage is genuinely intense.

A few of the highlights include a scene were a slew of race trucks are pulled over by Mexican police officers. They all willingly oblige. Another scene features grand martial Mario Andretti taking one of the trucks out for a spin, actually terrifying the owner who was sitting in the passenger seat. The joyride ends when they run out of gas miles from the camp and have to hitchhike back.

Even though this was a very entertaining documentary, it still wasn't quite outstanding. The construction of jumping around between characters got to be confusing, as they kept adding more and more. Also, it seemed to try to over-reach simply trying to document the event (which would have been strong in its own right), and provide from life-affirming inspirational tale. Granted, one of the producers was in fact "Mouse" McCoy's brother- so that agenda is prevalent. Dana Brown's narration just seemed hokey. The cliched metaphors, and inspiration speeches got to be repetitive, and they just weren't all that good. This is not a superb documentary, but it was interesting, and worth the time to watch

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Animated Shorts

Today I am going to be reviewing a few of my favorite animated shorts. Some of these are new, but some are very old. All of these are available for viewing online, and I'm including links to them all.

Mindscape/Le paysagiste- 1976:
This is in the running for my all time favorite animation. This was animated by Jacques Drouin using pinscreen animation. This is done by taking a white screen and peircing it with pins that can slide back and forth, creating impressions of varying depth. When light is shined on the pins, the varying shadows create the images. This is similer to those toys with the pins where you create the image of you hand or face, etc. The only difference is that instead of a few dozen pins, these full scale versions have hundreds of thousands, and have to be painstakingly moved by hand. This short is beautifully done. Not only is it visually stunning, but it's very emotive- considering it was all done with pins. It centers on an artist who steps inside a painting he is working on, and enters the realm of his own imagination. It truly is one of the most beautiful pieces ever animated.
Watch it here

Notes on a Triangle- 1966:
On first glance this seems to be a very simple animation. It only consists of triangles moving around. In reality, however, it is incredibly complex. René Jodoin uses paper cutouts for his triangles and manipulates them using stop motion. From personal experience (and even the aid of computer animation which he certainly did not have), this is incredibly difficult. This functions as even more than an animation study. Watching it, I find myself holding my breath as the triangles get more and more complex as the music rises to a climax. No other time have simple geometric shapes been so exciting.
Watch it here

Watchdog- 2004:
This Oscar nominated short is just one of many fantastic animations by Bill Plympton. He is one of my favorite artists to still do hand-drawn animations. This short keeps in his traditional extremely sylized cartoony look. His characters are always very exaggerated, and in most cases- violent. This one is no exception. The story follows a man taking his dog out for a walk. The paranoid dog sees danger in everything, and wants to protect his master. It's cute, but has a very surprising ending. Even if you don't read into the potential political undertones that were certainly involved (it was 2004 remember), it's still a fantastic bit of hand drawn, and hand colored animation.
Watch it here

Delivery- 2005:
I had the priveledge of seeing this short screened at 2006's SIGGRAPH conference. It was part of the animation festival (not even in the finals), and it came up on me out of nowhere. It was easily my favorite film there, and I probably saw over fifty. The animation is fantastic. The color, the lighting, the texturing, the music- they all set the perfect mood. The story is powerful, and the main character is intriguing- if a little frightening. The shorts opens as a solitary man, living in a dark and grimy world receives a mysterous package. Once he finds out what it is, he must contemplate what to do with it, and his decisions will greatly effect his life. This is an utterly amazing bit of animation, and I expect great things from Till Nowak.
Watch it here

Thursday, February 1, 2007

The Devil and Daniel Johnston

What is it about rock and roll that seems to automatically lend itself to documentaries? It seems any artist in history that has even recorded a single song is subject of a documentary- most have more than one. And unfortunately, many of them are really bad. The Devil and Daniel Johnston is not one of those. This gem of a "rockumentary" does what the best of them do, focuses more on the artist than the music. While most music documentaries are nothing more than glorified concert footage reels, this one is a true documentary in every sense of the genre.

The movie follows troubled singer/songwriter Daniel Johnston. Perhaps what makes this movie so enjoyable is that you do not need to know him before going into it. I had never heard of him before seeing previews for this movie. After watching I not only grew to like his music, I went out and bought one of his albums. Much of the movie focuses on his younger years before he became a star. There are some incredible home videos that he made featuring himself in many roles, and satirizing his "abusive" mother (I personally question the legitimacy of this portrayal). It then continues through his career of creating music and art- in both of which he was very prolific.

The cornerstone of the documentary is not necessarily his art, but his bouts with mental illness. He suffers from depression, delusions, and paranoia, all these augmented by his introduction to hallucinogenic drugs in the mid 80's. Throughout his life he was in and out of mental institutions, and in fact, he even signed his biggest record deal while incarcerated. In one powerful scene he is wandering around New York and tries to break into an old woman's house because he thinks there are demons in there. She gets terrified and jumps out the window, breaking her leg (this all testimony and re-enactment of course). Director Jeff Feuerzeig fills the movie with scenes like this, showing not only the pain Johnston went through, but the pain everyone around him endures as well.

The movie also features interviews with other artists and musicians that all seem to worship Johnston- all except those that know him personally. In one scene Simpson's creator, Matt Groening, gets backstage at one of his shows, and the two of them are almost in awe of each other. Interviews with Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth provide real incite, as he was with Johnston during his time in New York. There is even a segment featuring footage of Kurt Cobain, who was probably one of Johnston's most public fans. There was a time period where he could not be seen without wearing his "Hi, How Are You" Johnston created logo on his shirt. It was Cobain that really brought Johnston into the limelight.

What makes this movie so good is that you don't have to like his music to like the movie. It's a fascinating character study, not just homage. It portrays Johnston as a musical genius, but equally shows his dark side. This is a fine piece of film-making. It's not one of the best rockumentary ever (DiG probably holds that spot for me), but it is quite good. It was not widely released until 2006, but unfortunately a few showing in 2005 rendered it ineligible for this year's academy awards. Otherwise I have little doubt it would have been a contender for best documentary.