Some Kind of Monster (film)
|Some Kind of Monster|
|Directed by||Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky|
|Produced by||Joe Berlinger
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
Some Kind of Monster is a 2004 American documentary film featuring the American thrash metal band Metallica. It shares its name with the song "Some Kind of Monster" from Metallica's 2003 album St. Anger. The film shows many studio rehearsals and fragments of concert footage. It won the Independent Spirit Award for Best Documentary Feature. The DVD release was handled by Paramount Pictures, whose 2000 film Mission: Impossible 2 featured "I Disappear" by Metallica. Metallica re-released the film, including a bonus documentary, in 2014 to celebrate its 10th anniversary.
Origins and production
Directors Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky filmed a 1994 documentary called Paradise Lost on the West Memphis Three, about three teenagers convicted of murder. Metallica allowed their music to be used in the movie, which was the first time Metallica let any film use their music and the band drew attention to the cases. Following success, the directors eventually were interested in a no-holds-barred look at Metallica, which the band later agreed to and became Some Kind of Monster.
Metallica is forced to examine their nature and their very existence as bassist Jason Newsted quits the band and frontman James Hetfield abruptly leaves the group to enter a rehabilitation facility due to alcohol abuse. Metallica's management Q-Prime hires "performance-enhancing coach" Phil Towle to help the group better understand one another as friends, bandmates, and human beings. When the members of Metallica eventually decide that Towle's services are no longer required, Towle attempts to convince them that they still need him, saying "We've still got some trust issues that I think we need to sort out."
Former Metallica guitarist Dave Mustaine also appears briefly in a scene in which, as part of Lars Ulrich's therapy, he confronts the guitarist on September 13, 2001, regarding the decision to fire him early in the band's career for his excessive drinking. On top of the core relationship issues discussed during this meeting are two considerations specific to the date that it took place that will help aware viewers understand the tension and frustration in the room. First, the scene with Mustaine and Ulrich was filmed precisely two days after the September 11 attacks: a day when the entire United States and most of the rest of the world was in a severe state of melancholy. Secondly, this coincidentally also just happened to be Dave Mustaine's 40th birthday. For many years, until the burying of the hatchet between him and Metallica, Mustaine would grouse that he would much rather have spent his 40th birthday in Arizona with his wife and kids rather than on a couch in the Bay Area talking to Lars, even though the two had not had any serious personal contact for many years. In the meeting, Mustaine speaks frankly about his resentment stemming from his dismissal without the opportunity to redeem himself with an alcoholism treatment program; a point of view that Ulrich concedes he had never considered before. Mustaine also speaks of how, despite achieving success with his own group Megadeth, he still endures ridicule from Metallica fans, which has diminished the enjoyment of his own success.
Of particular note is the perceived "power struggle" between Hetfield and drummer Ulrich – best friends for more than two decades who are finally beginning to understand one another. Ulrich confesses that he resents Hetfield's need to control everything, even when Hetfield is not present; a stipulation of Hetfield's rehab release required him to work only four hours per day from noon to 4 p.m. so he could spend time with his family. Hetfield subsequently objected to the rest of the band working on or even listening to recorded material when he was not present. The scene ends with Ulrich starting to curse under his breath, before finally getting nose-to-nose with Hetfield and roaring "Fuck!"
In a scene where Hetfield, Ulrich, Kirk Hammett, and several others are discussing titles for the album, Hetfield suggests to use the name of the song "St. Anger." Many of the other people in the scene agree that it is a good title; however, Ulrich prefers "Frantic," which would become the first track on the album. Ulrich is eventually convinced that "Frantic," as an album title, would suggest a perceived lack of focus by the band.
The film contains many excerpts from the studio of unreleased tracks, such as "Shadows of the Cross", "Dead Kennedy Rolls", "Riff" and "More Than This (Whipping Boy)". The only unreleased song that can be heard fully is "Temptation".
The movie also addresses the early 2001 departure of longtime member Newsted. He is interviewed, and both rehearsal and concert footage of his own group, Echobrain, is shown. In one scene, an apparently impressed Ulrich states that "Jason is the future" after he and Hammett watch the band perform live. Footage is shown from public auditions the band held to find a replacement bass player. In a scene after Robert Trujillo's audition, guitarist Hammett notes that he uses his fingers to play, rather than a pick and mentions that it "hasn't been that way since Cliff Burton", Metallica's bassist before Jason Newsted. The band members later concur not only that Trujillo was the only bassist who didn't appear to be struggling with Metallica's material, but that playing with him forced the other three to tighten up their own parts. In a sense, Trujillo "made us play better."
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The film was well received by critics and holds an 89% "Certified Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with the consensus that the film is a "Fascinating behind-the-scenes look at how Metallica survives one of their more turbulent periods." Metacritic reported the film had an average score of 74 out of 100, based on 32 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews". A fragment of the summary says "...this documentary provides a fascinating, in-depth portrait of the most successful heavy metal band of all time...".
Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly gave it an "A", writing that it is "one of the most revelatory rock portraits ever made."
Lars Ulrich reflected on the production, saying: “We were at a crossroads. We had been really good at being able to compartmentalize a lot of this stuff. Suppress it with drinking or other extravagances. This was the first time we had to talk to each other, get to know each other and work stuff out. The cameras were there catching all of it.”
The producers requested Dave Mustaine's approval to include footage of his 2001 meeting with Ulrich. Although Mustaine denied the request, he had earlier signed a release form giving the band and the producers the right to use the footage. Mustaine later claimed that this marked "the final betrayal" and that he has now given up hope of ever fully reconciling with his former bandmates. Although he received a measure of satisfaction at being included and acknowledged in the film as Metallica's original guitarist, Mustaine felt his interview footage was edited to portray him in a "less than flattering" manner. Responding to Mustaine's criticism, Ulrich said, "So put these three facts down, he was in our band for a year. He never played on a Metallica record [official release], and it was 22 years ago. It's pretty absurd that it still can be that big a deal."
Mustaine eventually reconciled with Metallica. On June 16, 2010, Megadeth and Metallica played the first of what would end up being several shows with Slayer and Anthrax as the "big four of thrash metal", their first concert being in front of over 80,000 fans in Warsaw, Poland. The night before, the band members had a collective dinner that they found to be "laid-back" and "enjoyable" (in Mustaine's words) and in which Metallica bassist Robert Trujillo started off things hugging Mustaine. The "Big Four" collective played their last concert on September 14, 2011 in New York City's Yankee Stadium. In February 2016, Mustaine reiterated that he felt open to more concerts and had no opposition to working with Metallica and others again, only issues of timing and scheduling being in the way.
- Mike Inez of Alice In Chains
- Danny Lohner of Nine Inch Nails
- Jeordie White of Marilyn Manson (under his stage name "Twiggy Ramirez")
- Pepper Keenan of Corrosion of Conformity
- Scott Reeder of Kyuss
- Chris Wyse of The Cult
- Eric Avery of Jane's Addiction
All appear while auditioning for Metallica's vacant bassist position. Robert Trujillo was eventually selected.
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