Agony Shorthand

Friday, April 25, 2003
THE MC5 MOVIE : "A TRUE TESTIMONIAL"....Got a chance to see the brand new MC5 documentary two nights ago at the San Francisco Int'l Film Festival, along with a packed house of rambunctious hooters & hollerers who might've thought they were at the Grande Ballroom themselves watching the fuckin' MC5 kick it out. With a few caveats, I actually thought the film was pretty great, and by its end it had me wound up like the rest of the crowd, ready to start the 1968 revolution right there at the Castro Theater, with "Rocket Reducer No. 62" blaring in the background. The filmakers did a good job telling the story and letting it unwind slowly, with a lot of attention paid to the were-they-really-true-revolutionaries-or-weren't-they (or just an all-time great rock and roll band) question. Brother WAYNE KRAMER serves as the voice of reason throughout the movie and is also the de facto narrator and chief story-teller. He's a good counterweight to Michael Davis and especially Dennis Thompson, who comes across as someone I'd very much like to never spend time with (the film depicts him as a full-on asshole, to be frank). The scuttlebutt after the film from some quarters was that there should have been more live performances, with full songs allowed to explode in full glory. There is a 5-minute outdoor "Looking At You" performed for a bunch of college students, as well as TONS of other live footage (what a powerhouse these guys must have been!), but I think the actual physical quality of the footage is so prehistoric and rough that the filmmakers thought it'd be best to splice it all together aggressively and quickly. I thought it worked; others may disagree. I doubt it'll get a wide release due to being exceptionally low-budget and about a band that most mainstream folks aren't familiar with, but you fans of the 5 should definitely seek it out if you get the chance.