Some Kind of Monster, part 2

Some Kind of Monster cinema ticket

Last night I saw the Metallica film Some Kind of Monster with my friend Tirwin.

It was an inspiring, and at times quite moving, exploration into the relationships of these so-called ‘rock stars’. In a culture which puts stardom and fame almost above any other ambition, it was refreshing to witness the rawness and honesty of James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich and Kirk Hammett feeling their way through the defences and protective barriers that they have erected over the years to hide behind.

At times the film reminded me of the classic This is Spinal Tap, which is not to put Metallica down, but to praise how much truth there is about people in the Spinal Tap movie. At the beginning Phil Trowle, their $40,000 a month group psychotherapist “life coach”, who had been brought in by their management, Q Prime, to help facilitate communication between the three remaining band members (bassist Jason Newsted having just quit) appeared to be a great and necessary help, but towards the end of the film he seemed to have sadly descended into something of a parody of Spinal Tap’s Janine. That relationship towards the end felt, from my point of view, to be quite uncomfortable and verging on the abusive. I have no doubt that initially Phil was instrumental in helping Metallica stay together, but it felt quite quickly, particularly after James’s returned from rehab, that he had (unconsciously?) nurtured something of a dependancy relationship with the band. Something which didn’t go unnoticed in the Metallica camp, and which the revitalised James Hetfield stands up to.

I was particularly keen to see the scene where Lars Ulrich meets up with ex-Metallica band member Dave Mustaine (Megadeth). According to Dave’s posts on the Megadeth forum he was very upset with how that scene had been cut. I can understand now a little of why he might feel that way. The film doesn’t present much of the dialogue between these two former friends, however, the film is a focus on the current members of Metallica and the notable impact that this encounter has on Lars is quite evident; hopefully for the better. It reminds me a little of the reasons why Tom Bombadil was omitted from Peter Jackson’s filming of The Lord of the Rings: it wasn’t in keeping with the main thrust of the film and the main focus. (As an aside, while I recognise that Mustaine has been a hate-figure for many years from a great many naive and ignorant Metallica fans, I for one am glad also to have been a Megadeth fan all these years. Dave Mustaine is a phenominal guitarist, and I am a great fan and respecter of how Dave Mustaine managed to deal with his own substance addictions. Inspiring!)

I was inspired last night watching Some Kind of Monster; I can’t wait until it comes out on DVD. If you can: go see it! The music is amazing (particularly the snippets of tracks not included on the St Anger album)l the drama is gripping. But we mustn’t forget that this isn’t just entertainment, this is about real people’s lives, their feelings and relationships. I’m just glad it worked out okay.

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Gareth Saunders

I’m Gareth J M Saunders, 46 years old, 6′ 4″, father of 3 boys (including twins). Latterly, web architect and agile project manager at the University of St Andrews and warden at Agnes Blackadder Hall. Currently on sabbatical. I am a priest in the Scottish Episcopal Church, and I sing with the NYCGB alumni choir.