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Hit So Hard: The Life and Near Death Story of Patty Schemel

September 4, 2012 Leave a comment

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Drug addiction is one of the main themes of this documentary. After all, Patty Schemel’s career as a drummer and drug user began at the fragile early age of eleven, when she was given her first drum kit, closely followed by her first alcoholic drink at twelve. She speaks about her struggles with addiction so nonchalantly but there is always the tortured reminder that Patty almost did not survive and it is because of pure chance that she lives to tell her tale in this documentary.

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This isn’t just a drug story, the film also shows us footage of the precious family moments of Kurt Cobain, Courtney Love and their daughter Frances Bean. It also traces the history of her band with Courtney Love, ‘Hole’ with exclusive behind the scenes footage, interviews and the devastating story of bassist, Kristen Pfaff”s tragic death. Patty’s mother also gives valuable insight and wisdom into Patty’s teen years as a young lesbian struggling to belong in a small town full of bigotry and prejudice.

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See Hit So Hard: The Life and Near Death Story of Patty Schemel at Sydney Underground Film Festival this weekend. Hurry, tickets are selling fast! You can buy them for $10-14…here.

Trivia: One of Patty’s first bands ‘Doll Squad’ played with Nirvana in Seattle where supposedly Patty Schemel was poached by Kurt Cobain to be in his band. That is until she became second choice on the discovery of Dave Grohl. Courtney Love then recruited Patty as drummer for her new band, to be called ‘Hole

Despite The Gods

September 3, 2012 Leave a comment

David Lynch is well known for making bizarre films with a surrealist, dreamlike and often nonlinear structure. Labelled by many as one of the most popular surrealists of all time, Lynch made one of my all time favourite films, Eraserhead and co-created the equally iconic television series Twin Peaks. So by coming into the world with a father of such calibre, it comes as no surprise that David’s daughter Jennifer would want to walk in his footsteps as a filmmaker.

Sydney, Jennifer and David Lynch

Jennifer Lynch’s first attempt at filmmaking with Boxing Helena was an epic flop at the boxoffice and with critics alike. Jennifer was accused by feminists of making a torture porn film and critics called into question her ability and integrity on the grounds of inexperience and nepotism. Jennifer discusses these claims in Despite The Gods as ridiculous, due to the fact that she was just a nineteen year old girl setting out to make a fantasy film.

Sherilyn Fenn and Julian Sands in Boxing Helena.

Years later, Jennifer went on to direct the award winning horror film, Surveillance. With a new found confidence in her ability as a filmmaker, it is strange her next logical step was to make Nagin, a film about a snake that turns into a woman who then turns back into a snake goddess creature. I can’t give too much of the source films plot away without spoilers, but you can get the idea of its ridiculous nature from Nagin’s alternative title of Hisss.

Despite the Gods was intended as a documentary on the technical process and cultural conflicts of making a Bollywood meets Hollywood co-production, but it stands alone as a valuable and brutally honest insight into the everyday life of a full time director and single mother. The film also provides us with a snapshot into the culture of modern day India, with particular emphasis on the themes of sexuality, poverty and class systems.

Jennifer Lynch and Mallika Sheraw on the set of Nagin (Hisss)

Despite The Gods is showing at Sydney Underground Film Festival this Saturday, the 8th of September at midday in The Factory Theatre. Tickets are $12-14 and you can buy them… here.

Trivia: Jennifer Lynch wrote ‘The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer’, a spin-off novel of her father’s television series, ‘Twin Peaks’.

Bad Brains: A Band in DC

September 3, 2012 Leave a comment

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Whatever hard-core band that you listen to today; chances are they were inspired by the ground-breaking work of Washington DC’s ‘Bad Brains’. Well, their earlier stuff at least. Bad Brains is a documentary that traces the ample career of the band from their most acclaimed early hard-core punk rock, to their eventual fusion with reggae.

Intended as a tribute to the careers of the Bad Brains members, the film is eventually overshadowed by the rapid decline in frontman H.R’s (Human Rights) sanity. Beginning as a talented singer and performer, we witness the eventual mood swings, violent outbursts, drugged out rants and displays of disrespect towards the band and fans. Although these outbursts are entertaining at first, they soon become dark and disturbing, as we witness just how tormented and deranged this man has become.

The most interesting element of this documentary was the casual portrayal of the history of punk rock and hard-core music as a then developing genre. There is homage paid to The Ramones, The Sex Pistols, Led Zeppelin, and many more of the greats. Throughout this portrayal, the Bad Brains remain humbled about the magnitude of their own influence, with the exception of H.R.’s megalomania and nods from their friends, The Beastie Boys and Henry Rollins (to name just a few!).

This film is a must-see, not just for punk rock and reggae fans, but for all music fans curious about the evolution of this genre and the full story of an epic, undervalued and underappreciated band.

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Bad Brains probably won’t be showing in a cinema near you, so I suggest you get yourself to the Sydney Underground Film Festival screening, this Friday the 7th of September at The Factory Theatre, Marrickville. Tickets are a measly $12 – $14 bucks and you can buy them… here.

Trivia: In 1979, Bad Brains were banned from many live music and performance venues in Washington D.C, forcing them to relocate to New York.

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