@ NXNE: Monday, June 13, 9:00 p.m.
NXNE’s film lineup kicked off by reviving this 2007 film about grunge god, Kurt Cobain. This isn’t your typical rock doc of rare photographs, archival footage, and concert clips strung together by interviews. Instead, About A Son is a daring blend of audio interviews laid on top of contemporary film footage of Aberdeen, Olympia, Seattle and other haunts of the American northwest where Kurt Cobain spent parts of his 27 years on this planet. This arty approach is risky at 96 minutes, and About A Son could have come off as pretentious and boring, but somehow director A.J. Schnack makes it work.
Credit starts with co-producer Michael Azerrad, who wrote the first important biography of Nirvana, 1993′s Come As You Are. His taped Cobain interviews are what we hear on this soundtrack, like a spirit talking from the afterlife. Cobain is refreshingly candid, open, and relaxed. We feel like he is talking to us and not a journalist, and this is the essential ingredient of the film. It doesn’t hurt that Wyatt Troll’s lovely cinematography keeps our eyes glued to the scarred forests of Washington state or the glittering office towers of Seattle. The music soundtrack is also left-field. Instead of “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” we hear what Cobain listened to on his mix tapes: Mudhoney, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Vaselines, REM, early Bowie, The Melvins, and many others.
Some excerpts from Cobain’s audio diaries:
On his first musical influence: “My Aunt Mary, I guess you can call her an aspiring musician. She was in a lot of bar bands in Aberdeen. She was definitely the most helpful person in my life as far as music, because she gave me an electric Hawaiian guitar and amplifier when I was eight years old, and she was the one who also gave me The Beatles records…”
On his father: “I never felt like I had a father figure…I lived with him for a short time and then he got married. After that, I was like one of the last things of importance on his list.”
On finding punk rock: “I’m glad I got into punk rock the time that I did. It gave me those few years I needed to grow up and to put my values into perspective and realize what kind of person I am.”
Watch the trailer below: