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Movie Review: Cobain - Montage of Heck

Kurt Cobain is an icon of the '90s. The Nirvana frontman's music lives on... long after his alleged suicide, perpetuated by a strong cult following, conspiracy theories and his enigmatic spirit. Montage of Heck is a documentary that assimilates Cobain's art, writing, vocal recordings and home videos into a raw, honest and intimate biographical music film.

Writer-director, Brett Morgen, was fascinated with Pink Floyd's film, The Wall, which blended animation, symbolism and their music into a haunting story and cinema experience. He watched it many times and was influenced by the eclectic nature of their surreal pop culture offering when he approached Montage of Heck. The film was commissioned by Courtney Love, who gave Morgen unprecedented access to Cobain's personal archive.

In his initial investigation, Morgen uncovered a mix tape called Montage of Heck, which included some spooky sci-fi and old horror movies interludes amid underground alternative music of the time. This together with The Wall, gave Morgen the blueprint for Montage of Heck, a bewildering and maddeningly brilliant bio documentary and testament to the life and times of Kurt Cobain.

We're introduced to a young Cobain in a series of childhood photos and videos, which are laced together by renditions of Nirvana's music and complemented by friends and family interviews. Morgen is trying to get into Kurt's head, prying open the trunk of trinkets and giving the audience a deeply personal and increasingly paranoid peephole into Cobain's head.

Cobain: Montage of Heck

"Montage of Quik, anyone?"

His scrawlings are splashed across the screen as if he were composing them out loud, his artwork is animated to bring his thought life onto the celluloid canvas, his tape recordings echo his voice and his teenage misadventures are re-imagined in moody animation.

It's an intense experience, discovering Cobain's humble beginnings and journeying with him as he channels his artistic temperament into musical genius. He was largely misunderstood, enigmatic and paradoxical... becoming an overnight success story with Nirvana after being a social misfit and leech for most of his young adult life.

It's a hazy, mesmerising journey through one tormented man's biography. He's portrayed as a degenerate youth turned cult icon and we're given an intimate, honest and drug-infused throwback to his heydays. At over 2 hours, this barrage of intimate love and self-loathing is decidedly long... and often disturbing even. Morgen shys away from speculation surrounding his death but brings Cobain's secret life to light in this kaleidoscopic documentary.

For fans of Nirvana, it's a must-see, delivering a double dose of candid honesty, relayed by mixed media and music in an atmosphere ripe with emotion. For bystanders, it's still a fascinating and harrowing downward spiral into a suspended state of lunacy where moments of extreme hate and love co-exist. From the loud, eerie opening credit rumble to the rather abrupt ending... it's a unique fly-on-the-wall experience that can be enjoyed by friends and enemies of alternative music and lifestyles.

The bottom line: Maddening

Talking Movies with Spling - 5 to 7, Seun and Montage of Heck

Spling reviews 5 to 7, Seun and Montage of Heck as broadcast on Talking Movies, Fine Music Radio. Catch Talking Movies on Fridays at 8:20am and Saturdays at 8:15am every week on Fine Music Radio.

Movie Review: Jurassic World

Jurassic World is one of those movie sequel throwbacks that channels '90s nostalgia and theme park curiosity into a weird tribute to dinosaurs. We're living in an age where films like Sharknado have an audience, which helps explain the theme park roller-coaster ride meets Jurassic Park tribute tone of Jurassic World.

Colin Trevorrow's been charged with creating something new, based on something old and he's done that with a cheeky tone and casting Chris Pratt as our resident Steve Irwin meets Indiana Jones, explains the film's intentions. Pratt stars opposite wannabe perfectionist, Bryce Dallas Howard, whose slowly unraveling control freak character generates plenty of laughs along the way with her high heels intact.

It's not a complete comedy or as big a send-up as Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus, but feels like it was based on a theme park ride rather than a novel by Michael Crichton. The film entrenches us in the resort style theme park of commercial enterprise, which has reached saturation to the point that new genetics are introduced to create new attractions.

As you'd expect, as with all Jurassic Park movies, something inevitably goes wrong and havoc breaks loose. It's been 22 years since the events of Jurassic Park, which have been buried to the point of any reference to the tragic events, even memorabilia, being in bad taste.

Jurassic World

"Damn... anyone feeling really small right now?"

Jurassic World's CGI is impressive to the point of becoming ordinary, but also highlights just how fantastic Jurassic Park was for its time. The sound is also fantastic, borrowing quite liberally from the original John Williams score to recapture that spirit of exploration and adventure. Sadly, this also makes you long for the original's novelty with the recurring theme.

The biggest difference is that Jurassic World feels like a roller-coaster... you're always aware of your seat belt and know its just entertainment. The classic water ripple scene is reinvented in a few scenes and they explore the technology behind a futuristic theme park. This helps refresh the series along with new characters, even though you're not as invested in them.

The references to the original are a clever tie-in to distract you from the thought that Jurassic World is really just a double bubble-wrapped Jurassic Park. We've got a similar narrative structure, familiar characters and it only feels like its bulging at the seams because they've tried to swallow the T-Rex.

While it starts with an earnest and epic Spielberg tone, it eventually caves into itself as one ridiculous escape is supplanted by another or shown up by the reality of a real man vs. dinosaur scenario. That's not to say there isn't any dino gore, or even touching moments, but the film's permanently stuck in a weird limbo between fitting tribute and wink-wink Romancing the Stone comedy adventure.

Some decisions seem completely over-the-top and it does have a comic book cheesiness to it, but it remains an entertaining spectacle and a fun, thrilling ride with first-rate effects. As a sequel, it never aimed to reach the same heights as the original, but has fun poking fun at itself without breaking the fourth wall in the process.

The bottom line: Thrilling

Talking Movies with Spling - Pixadores, Treurgrond and The Best of Me

Spling reviews Pixadores, Treurgrond and The Best of Me as broadcast on Talking Movies, Fine Music Radio. Catch Talking Movies on Fridays at 8:20am and Saturdays at 8:15am every week on Fine Music Radio.

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