DiG!


Directed by: Ondi Timoner
Written by:Ondi Timoner
Released: April 14, 2005
Grade: A-

When it comes to documentaries on the big screen, you probably can’t call me a critic.  That’s because I give every one a great review!  My top 10 list from last year features 5 awesome docos.  I’m not sure whether I’m biased to the genre or it’s just that it’s a golden era for documentary filmmakers.  I’d like to think it’s the later but I’ll understand if you’re sick of my raves and wish to read no further.

DiG! is a brilliantly put-together documentary which follows two American rock bands trying to breakthrough in the mid 1990s.  Courtney Taylor started The Dandy Warhols and Anton Newcombe founded The Brian Jonestown Massacre.  The two bands were once quite close and hundreds of hours of behind-the-scenes footage was recorded on hand-held cameras.  With amazing editing, this random footage has been collated into 105 minutes of infotainment.

The Dandy Warhols found success.  It wasn’t easy at first and their early attempts to crack the American markets were a failure.  The record companies said they’d support them fully but balked as soon as the first album didn’t crack the charts.  Taking their music to Europe, The Dandy Warhols discovered their audience.  Over the next few years, they released a variety of albums (including Welcome To The Monkey House and Thirteen Tales from Urban Bohemia) and often performed in front of 100,000 screaming fans. 

The Brian Jonestown Massacre found failure.  They had incredible promise but it was never realised.  As talented as Anton was as a song-writer, his eccentric behaviour cost his band any chance at fame.  Anton’s anger and drug problems saw him ruin relationships with managers, record labels and the band members themselves.  In the end, fans came to Massacre concerts just to see if Anton would flip out.

I’m not a musician and in terms of music knowledge, I’d be in the bottom 1% of the country.  I knew a couple of The Dandy Warhols’ songs (one was used in the Sideways trailer) but that’s about it.  Yet my admiration for this film proves that anyone can take pleasure from it.  My favourite angle of the film was its look at the greed of major record labels.  Not only do they lack the courage to support new talent (unless it’s commercial), they try to destroy internet sites such as Napster and Kazaa to stop these same musicians from sharing their artistry in an attempt to find a fan base.

I’ve hinted at it already but DiG! deserves huge raves for its editing.  The fact that there’s hardly a dull moment is a tribute to the editor and director of the film, Ondi Timoner.  It could easily have been longer and I sense there’s some other great behind-the-scenes stuff we didn’t see.  I don’t know if this documentary was always planned but the amount of footage is extraordinary.  It’s as if every major decision or action of both bands was videotaped.

So yep, another documentary and another big rave.  If you don’t want to see it though, it’s your loss.