Can You Dig It? A review of the film DIG!
by Ray D'Ariano



Anton Newcombe
Courtney Taylor-Taylor
Joel Gion
Matt Hollywood
Peter Holmstrom

Ondi Timoner Director/ Producer/Editor/ Cinematographer

Vasco Lucas Nunes Cinematographer/

David Timoner Cinematographer/

The Brian Jonestown Massacre Composer
(Music Score)

The Dandy Warhols Composer (Music Score)

Kim Randall Musical Direction/Supervision

Tim Rush Associate Producer

Runtime: 107 minutes
Rated R for language
and drug use



Sometimes after midnight with a little Grey Goose on the rocks, I go to Netflix, look around and order up a bunch of stuff that seems incredibly interesting at that late hour as the French hooch runs through my blood stream. Then I usually forget all about my orders until they turn up two weeks later.

There's a method to my madness. For example, I see a DeNiro flick and I decide he's the greatest living American actor (OK, so it's either him or Pacino or Nicholson, but he's up there, OK?) so I decide to order up every film he's ever made. Or maybe I see someone in a flick that I've never seen before who just knocks me out, like Catherine Keener in "Being John Malkovich." Wow, where has she been? You know? . . . and for the next month it's the Catherine Keener Film Festival everything she's ever done, "Death To Smoochy," "Lovely and Amazing," "Box Of Moon Light," and her other 400 flicks (who knew?). I love her . . . don't think she ever worked with DeNiro. She did one with Pacino a disappointment. Should have been spectacular, but anyway . . .

With that background let me tell you what happened. I missed The Ramones documentary "End of the Century" when it played for 6 minutes on Saturday nights at midnight in one theater in The Village so I was delighted when it turned up on Netflix and more delighted when it arrived at my home. I loved it, gaba gaba hey, that's the review. GREAT DVD, great band . . . OK, onward.

Now following my DVD ordering procedure, it became rock documentary time. "Metallica: Some Kind of Monster" was the obvious one. "Dig!" about the rivalry and friendship of two much lesser known bands, The Brian Jonestown Massacre and The Dandy Warhols was the "what the hell . . . why not? let me give it a shot" selection.

The Metallica film is the big slick, "my God you don't know how tough it is to be a multi-zillionaire rock God who gets to get shit-faced on someone else's champagne while watching the art you got tired of looking at as it hung on your mansion walls, selling for millions of dollars in a Manhattan auction house flick" (I can't make this shit up. It's in the documentary) . . . while "Dig!" is the ever-smiling Brian Jones Massacre tambourine player, Joel Gion, grinning away at the camera as a group of zealous Georgia law men search the band's van for dope on a dusty side road in the Deep South film . . . real shit that's scarier than anything Stephen King ever wrote.

"Dig!" is the raw, naked, underbelly of rock and roll reality. "Some Kind Of Monster" is a sort of Spinal Tap 2004. Metallica are funny because they don't know how pathetic they come across. There are many other acts that pay professional publicists thousands of dollars to keep this stuff away from the public.

While Metallica were suing their own fans for downloading The Brian Jonestown Massacre (Time out! Got to take a second here, OK? NOFX, Country Joe and The Fish, Sly and The Family Stone, Rancid great, great rock band names, but The Brian Jonestown Massacre!!! My God, what a sensational name for a rock band! Meanwhile as I was saying . . . ) they had a gig in L.A , Viper Room to be specific, and the plan was that after the set they were going to sign a record deal, but Anton Newcombe, their leader, got into a brew ha ha, a fist fight with the other guys in his own band! It all happened live and in living color onstage in front of their fans and future record company and ended with one of the greatest lines in the history of American Cinema, "Motherfucker broke my sitar, man."

Necombe is the star of the film; he plays the Brian Wilson/Brian Jones role. Every great band has this guy; most have a guy who tries to be this character but comes off as Eddie Vedder nothing against Eddie, but we're all adults here, you know what I mean. Anyway, Newcombe . . . self destructive . . . genius . . . tortured and tormented soul . . . nut . . . doing it all on his own terms pissing off anyone and everyone who could help him achieve success. He's a star, this guy, and he looks like he was born too late because he should have been in one of those southern California 60's psychedelic bands. He should have been hanging out getting high and into trouble with Gram Parsons and David Crosby or maybe in the 70s, he should have been the only American in The Sex Pistols. He probably would have been more at home hanging with The Ramones at CBGB's fighting with Joey. I guess no one told him MTV changed the whole f_kin' playing field. Ever hear of Madonna, Duran Duran, or Sting? Maybe Anton should watch The Metallica DVD and see the way rock stars are supposed to act now.

The other band feature in this documentary that was shot over a seven-year period by Ondi Timoner is The Dandy Warhols (another cool name). We learn that they don't mean much here in the states, but are huge in Britain and Germany. In the film we see them performing before thousands of loyal fans across the pond. At the same time we see Massacre do a marathon nine-hour set (take that Phil Lesh!) for ten people at the Communist offices in Cleveland. This is real stuff. It wasn't written by some comic hanging around an insane asylum in Africa. It really happened.

I'm watching this thing, absolutely loving it, and thinking of the old tune from The Byrds, "So You Want To Be A Rock And Roll Star." Let me tell you something, and this is from a guy who put in my time in the music business, this is the DVD any aspiring act or artist must see. The life of the rock artist is not all limos, bogus MTV tribute shows, and selling of their million dollar art collections. It is in fact in FACT just like "Dig!" You got your drugs . . . (shine on you crazy diamond) . . . the obnoxious and evil music industry . . . (Don King once said the music business makes the world of professional boxing look like a Sunday school picnic) . . . arrests, heartbreak, and despite it all, or maybe because of it all, the creation of amazing music.

I could go on and on, but the point is this, anyone who is interested in the rock scene should see this documentary. It's funny, it's sad, it's real.

Here's one more bit that might intice you to see it. It's Anton Alfred Newcombe talking about the flick on The Brian Johnstown Massacre website: "I was shocked and let down when I saw the end result. Several years of our hard work was reduced at best to a series of punch-ups and mishaps taken out of context, and at worst, bold-faced lies and misrepresentation of fact."

"A perfect example is footage shown of me getting arrested in Georgia. The narration and editing suggest that I am being arrested for drug possession. It was actually Ondi who was arrested for possession, and rightly so, as the drugs were hers. I happened to have an expired license."

You gotta see this flick. In the meantime check out some great music:

The Dandy Warhols CD's:
"The Dandy Warhols Come Down," "Welcome To The Monkey House," "Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia."

The Brian Jonestown Massacre CD's:
"Strung Out In Heaven," "And This Is Our Music," "Tepid Peppermint Wonderland: A Retrospective."


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