Metallica: Some Kind of Monster (2004)

Genres - Culture & Society, Music  |   Sub-Genres - Interpersonal Relationships, Music History, Psychology, Vocal Music  |   Release Date - Jul 9, 2004 (USA - Limited)  |   Run Time - 141 min.  |   Countries - Canada , United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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VH1's Behind the Music became a hit television show by trivializing the problems of famous rock stars. Metallica: Some Kind of Monster is just about as strong a reply to that series as one could possibly imagine. Having almost three years worth of footage (including material from intimate group therapy sessions involving the band members) must have made for a nightmare in the editing room; however, directors Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky are confident enough to take their time with the finished film. The viewer slowly learns the psychological makeup of each of the individual members. We see Lars Ulrich's self-absorbed perfectionism and learn how his relationship with his father colors it, Kirk Hammett's passive quest for calm, and James Hetfield's self-destructive qualities as well as his inner-strength in getting clean and figuring out how best to live his life. The genius of the film is how the audience gets to see how each of the three main band members interact with each other, and how they work together as a trio. The effect is so subtle that the viewer may not notice how much they know about the band until the point when Kirk Hammett subtly confronts the other two about how little they listen to him. Although it is a minor altercation, the audience understands how hard it was for Hammett to do what he does, and they understand what the other two are hearing when it happens. Although the psychological insights are the best reason to recommend this film, it also works as a look at how modern rock records are made, and as an endorsement for therapy. Some Kind of Monster reminds the audience that for all the goofy excesses (and the film certainly shows the goofy excess) of celebrity musicians' lives, they are fascinating and complicated three-dimensional people.