Movie Poster
Metallica: Some Kind of Monster
Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky
James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett, Robert Trujillo, Jason Newsted, Dave Mustaine
135 min.


It is telling when, in a movie about a band, the best piece of music belongs to someone else. Granted, that someone else is Ennio Morricone, so the same fate could befall a movie about the Beatles. It is also telling when your father says, with remarkable candor, of your new song, "I'd say delete it."

First a caveat: Lars' father is fucking cool. He's like Klaus Kinski playing ZZ Top as Saruman. And, man, is he Danish. When Dave Mustaine calls Lars Ulrich "my little Danish friend", you can see where the Danish comes from. Maybe his mother was friendly and small. Lars, meanwhile, looks like a less crazy version of Genesis P-Orridge. Mixed with a gnome. Do unattractive people gravitate toward drumming, or does drumming make you unattractive? But, I suppose as long as Lars makes enough money for both of them, his wife can be attractive for two.

Metallica have always had the average guy image. They were a bunch of fan boy friends who came together and decided to form a band. Now they are the richest average guys on the planet. New bassist Robert Trujillo is paid, almost as if on a whim, a million dollars for signing up. Group therapist Phil is paid, for a duration of around two years, forty thousand dollars a month. Damn. In my entire working life I have made almost forty thousand dollars. Which all seems to have disappeared. I've got a lot of liquid assets, though. Namely, a lot of my money is tied up in beer.

So anyway, James goes to rehab, Lars becomes, by his own account, "the most hated fucking asshole in rock", they audition a new bass player and through it all Phil is there to coach them through their emotions. It's riveting filmmaking. Berlinger and Sinofsky, who were responsible for the powerful-despite-itself Paradise Lost, have put together a sad, funny and above all human portrait of the world's biggest metal stars.

There's a cameo by metal's number two (circa 1985), Dave Mustaine, which is genuinely heartbreaking. Dave was the original lead guitarist of Metallica. In 1983 he was kicked out of the band for alcoholism. He formed Megadeth, which has had its moments in the spotlight, and is itself, a pretty big name. But he has been haunted by the spectre of Metallica. People accost him on the street with taunts of "Metallica rocks," among other things. He sits and talks to Lars about his regrets in what is indisputably one of the films most arresting scenes.

Look, go see it. It's really great. You don't need to like Metallica to enjoy it. In fact, after watching them all work so hard to put out the new album, its really a shame St. Anger isn't any good. It's the most human drama of the last year. And, dammit, its got Ennio Morricone.

Pat Jackson