Hot Docs 2015: Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck Review

Special Presentations

It’s hard not to see Brett Morgen’s documentation of Kurt Cobain’s life as anything short of definitive. Morgen previously disrupted non fiction cinema with The Kid Stays In The Picture, a kinetic and at times profound look at Robert Evans that used motion graphics to bring still images to life. Morgen and his team have made another leap, using both character animation and wonderfully rendered motion graphics to present Cobain’s writings, musings and music in a visually stunning way.

While I’m no fan of either Cobain or Nirvana, the film struck a deep chord, providing an unsettling and intimate portrayal of this iconic performer. Through the use of stripped down, orchestral renditions of some of Cobain’s songs one can hear the melodicism, and dare I say it tenderness and sensitivity, that was often obscured by the thrashing and crashing waves of Nirvana’s sound. 

Montage of Heck is epic in its scope yet penetratingly immediate in its focus, using everything from home tape experiments to bathtime home videos to portray a nuanced, often ambivalent portrait of its subject. Fans will adore it, non-fans will appreciate it. By any metric, Montage of Heck is an achievement in the art of non-fiction music films, and one not to be missed.

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Screens:

Fri, Apr 24 9:45 PM @ TIFF Bell Lightbox 1
Sat, Apr 25 1:15 PM @ Bloor Hot Docs Cinema
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