About A SonIntro

A worthy tribute to a man who accidentally became an icon of 90’s music.

The Story

In the early 90’s, if you were a fan of music you were likely well aware of the movement coming out of Seattle. One of the most influential bands to come out of this city during this time was the grunge band Nirvana. Led by lead singer Kurt Cobain, this band reached consistently new heights all over the world until Kurt’s tragic death in his home.

It was during this time that music journalist Michael Azerrad interviewed Kurt about his life and career. Now, years later Azerrad releases hours of previously unreleased recorded audio with the rock star that has the musician describing in his own words his thoughts and feelings on his life growing up in the small city of Aberdeen, his emotional issues growing up, the rise to stardom for Nirvana, his relationship with his wife Courtney Love, the chronic pain that racked his body and led him to his life in drugs and so much more.

Good and the Bad

Growing up as a huge music fan a few miles outside of Seattle, I hit my teen years right around the time of the Nevermind album hit store shelves. There was no avoiding the influence of Nirvana in this area and thus I too became a loyal fan of the lead singer.

In this two hour documentary, the film is made up entirely of recorded audio from Kurt Cobain placed over random images that were filmed in various locations that Kurt described from his life. On one hand, this works in many different scenes. During most of the scenes however, I found this to be a really boring way to present everything that was said. On more than one occasion throughout my initial viewing I found myself distracted or bored by the visual images that were on my screen and so I would close my eyes and just listen to Cobain talking rather than actually watch the film.

With the only voice you ever hear throughout the film being the voice of the interview subject, it can be very hard to pay attention sometimes as well. Cobain was a very eloquent speaker and incredibly intelligent but like other humans; he did sometimes have a habit of meandering from the subject which led to a little bit of frustration as you waited for him to make his point. Another issue that I found with this was that you rarely got to hear extended segments of Cobain speaking and instead you got edits and sound bites with no real context as to what led into that question. By only hearing the answers and rarely the questions asked, it’s much harder to get into the insights that are being revealed by the troubled star.

The soundtrack of the film was really interesting to me since it was made up almost entirely of bands that Kurt directly mentioned as being an influence on his life. While I really would’ve enjoyed hearing some of Nirvana’s songs make it onto the soundtrack of the film you have to figure that there were all sorts of legal and financial issues that would have arisen from trying to do so.

The most irritating aspect of the film for me was the lack of consistency in the sound levels though. During the quiet interview segments, I found myself having to turn the volume up all the time to hear Kurt talking but then just as suddenly I would have to rush to turn my volume down when the music would start because it was so loud. This seems like such a simple thing to fix and it boggles my mind that no one on the staff thought about it while the film was being put together.

Extras

There are three extras on this release for fans to view. The first is a behind the scenes featurette where some of the creators of the film such as Michael Azerrad and director AJ Schnack , talk about how they knew the singer and the making of the film. Also included are commentaries on selected scenes from the director and some various shots that compare the location scouting footage to the final cuts.

The ‘making of’ feature was actually one of the most interesting things on the disc. I really enjoyed listening to the director and writer talk about the film. It was even more interesting for me to hear from Azerrad himself talking about his memories of Cobain and how he met him and became friends with him.

The selected scene commentaries were a little pointless to me. It was interesting on some levels to hear about why some of the locations were chosen (such as the opening shot that took place from his home north of Seattle), but most of them were fairly boring. The same thoughts came through my mind again on the final extra of the location shot comparisons.

Overall

A documentary that will appeal to fans of Kurt Cobain who will never let go of his memory, this documentary is a fitting tribute to him. While there was still so much that could’ve been added to the film to make it fuller and a bit more engaging, the film itself is a very real look into the personal life of arguably one of the most gifted and talented musicians to come out of Washington in the last fifty years.

After it was over though, I found myself with a bit more understanding of who the man behind the music was. Others will undoubtedly walk away with the same impression but with the lack of engaging interviews (other than what was said by Cobain) and imagery that does little to add to the soundtrack, I can’t say that this release will be enjoyed by anyone other than current fans of Kurt Cobain and those who remember the impact that he had on the world while he was still alive.

Final Grade: 81% – B

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