The Brian Jonestown Massacre dukes it out with The Dandy Warhols
The myth of the artist as madman has probably been around since cavemen painted on their walls. Ondi Timoner gives it a contemporary rock 'n' roll treatment in "Dig!" her arresting documentary about self-destructive musician Anton Newcombe. Timoner followed Newombe's band, the Brian Jonestown Massacre, and its archrival, the Dandy Warhols, for seven years and has put together some amazing footage of the rock life at its most exalted and most mundane.
While Newcombe churns out independently produced masterpieces, his onetime friend Courtney Taylor leads his band, the Warhols, to semi-respectability and considerable success. Taylor admires Newcombe's genius but gradually finds him impossible to be around. To say Newcombe is abusive is an understatement. He throws his guitarist off the stage for playing a wrong note and kicks a fan in the head just for the fun of it.
A wiry man of considerable charm and charisma on his good days, Newcombe can't seem to stand the possibility of making it. He flirts with some major labels, and every time he seems on the verge of breaking through, he screws it up. An industry showcase at the Viper Room in Los Angeles turns into an all-out brawl.
Interviews with Newcombe's mother and his father, who abandoned him as an infant and commits suicide during the course of the film, go a long way toward explaining his twisted psyche and lyrics about his parents being the best friends he never had. Timoner tries to remain objective and not judge Newcombe, but that may be letting him off too easily. Even if he is enormously talented and creative, like most drug addicts and alcoholics, Newcombe hurts the people around him the most. "Dig!" may not be for all tastes, but it's an up close and personal look at a true rock 'n' roll animal. (J. Greenberg, Hollywood Reporter)
Sat & Sun February 12 & 13, 2005, 7:00 & 9:30, Muenzinger Auditorium
USA, 2004, in English, Color, 115 min, Unrated • official site