Opinion, Review

Montage of Heck Review (HBO)

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My Rating: 5/5

After his death, Kurt Cobain reached icon status as the champion of the misunderstood and the photogenic front man of 90’s grunge band Nirvana. Though many documentaries have been made about the meteoric rise of Nirvana as a rock band with Kurt at the helm, Brett Morgen managed to peel away at the glorification of his life and show us Kurt Cobain through his own thoughts and videos in this chaotic, magnetic and powerful documentary.

Montage of Heck features exclusive home videos and recordings of Kurt Cobain that reveal the most intimate details of his thinking. Starting with his childhood, the film fearlessly outlines the defining moments of Kurt’s life in all their beauty and ugliness. An energetic child, Kurt is deeply affected by his parents divorce. We witness pivotal events during his upbringing that are painful and contribute to an internal feeling of shame and self-loathing that sadly followed Kurt through super stardom to his death.

If you’re looking for a straightforward bio-pic with a play by play of the defining moments of Kurt Cobain’s career, this isn’t it. Instead, it’s a vivid and highly visual portrayal of Kurt’s notebooks and thoughts. His journals were at times very funny and sarcastic. He was filled with ideas and an internal drive to prove his worth. Some of it was shocking and very dark. After watching this film, I felt like I could finally begin to understand some of the pain and shame that Kurt was going through.

Brett Morgen chose to highlight Kurt Cobain’s drug addiction. Seeing home videos of Kurt strung out and nodding off while holding baby Frances Bean was a stark reminder of how unglamorous his final days really were. He was not an icon, or a hero or an anti-hero. He was a human being that was deeply affected by his experiences growing up and filled with an incredibly amount of potential but also with a deep sadness. I saw myself in part of his struggle and I think that’s why his music affect so many so deeply. Which brings me to the take away from this whole film, it was a great tragedy that his life was lost at such a young age and there’s really nothing cool or epic about it.

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Documentary News

HBO To Air Highly-Anticipated Scientology Documentary

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The countdown begins for tomorrow night’s premiere of the long anticipated HBO Documentary Going Clear that examines the Church of Scientology. The film is based on Lawrence Wright’s best selling book of the same name and it will take a critical look at some of the more controversial aspects of the religion. Given Scientology’s tendency to litigate against critics, HBO reportedly hired a whopping 160 lawyers to work on the film. I’d say this movie is going to be iron clad. Check out a great preview piece from NPR below and stay tuned for my review of the film.

http://www.npr.org/2015/03/26/395579453/church-of-scientology-calls-new-hbo-documentary-bigoted

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Documentary News

HBO Premieres Trailer for Kurt Cobain Documentary “Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck” and It Looks Amazing

HBO has just released the official trailer for their upcoming Kurt Cobain documentary entitled Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck set to air on May 4th. The trailer features home videos of Kurt as a child as well as candid shots of him playing with his daughter, Frances Bean. The filmmakers will include a 12-minute unheard acoustic track by Cobain and a companion book featuring rare photographs and mementos from his personal collection. This film seems to have incredible access to Kurt Cobain’s life, which promises for a harrowing account of the singer’s life. Check it out below.

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Opinion

The Jinx Bombshell (SPOILER ALERT)

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If you’ve been religiously watching The Jinx on HBO like I have, you would know that this Sunday’s episode included a new revelation about the murder of Robert Durt’s close friend Susan Berman, one that seems to pretty clearly implicate Durst in her murder or at least that he had knowledge of it. Andrew Jarecki’s documentary series has been slowly building to this moment and wow, is it a big one.

Trying to ride off the coat tails of the Serial podcast’s huge success, HBO released this similarly serialized documentary series hoping to capture some of that audience. As a Serial fan, I definitely took that bait and have been thoroughly enjoying this series albeit for different reasons. Though there is a lot less ambiguity around this case (some parts of Durst’s story are just so far fetched to believe I found myself wondering less if he did it but how he got away with it), the masterful way that it the story is told with beautifully eerie visual sequences and incredibly telling moments such as Robert Durst quietly rehearsing to himself what he was going to say during a break in the interview is what really caught my interest. Another big difference is this new evidence that the filmmaker discovered. Unlike Serial which analyzes existing evidence to draw its conclusions (some of which was ignored such as Asia McClain’s testimony), Jarecki and HBO’s The Jinx just made a connection that can make a real difference in an unsolved murder investigation and possibly lead to an indictment.

The revelation came at the end of the episode when Sareb Kaufman, Susan Berman’s stepson, contacted the filmmakers to alert them about a letter he had found sent from Robert Durst to Susan before her murder. When he handed over the letter, the producers are shocked to see that the handwriting is almost identical to the handwriting on an anonymous letter sent to the Beverly Hills police alerting them to a “cadaver” in Susan Berman’s home and leading to the discovery of her body. Looking at the writing it looks almost undoubtedly the same (at least to my untrained eye). Even the word “Beverly” is misspelled as “Beverley” in both letters. Kaufman, who had maintained a relationship with Durst since his step mom’s murder, was in tears while comparing the two letters. I have to admit that I was a taken aback that anyone would be hanging out or accepting money from someone that was suspected of being involved of their loved ones murder. This moment seemed like Kaufman’s admission to himself that he could no longer ignore the reality that he could have been dancing with the devil.

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Susan Berman was a close confidante of Robert Durst and it is theorized that she could have known details of the disappearance of Durst’s wife and may have been killed by Durst to prevent her from talking. According to The New York TImes, the Los Angeles Police Department has recently reopened the case and this letter could be a huge part of their new investigation. Unlike Adnan Syed’s case that seems to be drudging its way through the court appeals process, we might really see some progress in terms of the Robert Durst saga sometime soon and theoretically a season two of The Jinx. The episode ended with references to a second interview with Robert Durst where the filmmakers confront him with this new evidence. This is the first time in the season where I have been really anxious to the see the next episode and I can officially call myself hooked on the show. Sadly, this next episode is the last one.

I will admit that during parts of his interviews Robert Durst came off as likeable, quirky man who I almost felt some kind of sympathy for. But I find it hard to deny this new and pretty damning evidence. Is this an eccentric man that had the worst luck in the world or this a privileged serial killer whose status allowed him to get away with multiple terrifying murders? We’ll never know the answer with a hundred percent certainty but I think we’re getting close.

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