12 March 2015

DVD Review - Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me (2012)

Rating: TBA
Drew DeNicola, Olivia Mori
Release: 2nd March 2015
Buy: Nothing Can Hurt Me [DVD]

Nothing Can Hurt Me is a documentary of the cult band Big Star from Memphis, Tennessee. They bridged the gap between The Velvet Underground and what would later become punk rock, and more specifically the power pop and paisley underground that would come in it’s wake. It was the brainchild of two songwriters, Alex Chilton and Chris Bell.

The documentary, like the band’s fame, is a bit too late for it’s own good. The film really started filming around the time of Alex Chilton’s death and Chris Bell has been dead since the late ‘70s. Chilton also was notoriously cagey about speaking about his time in Big Star, and when him and Jody Stephens reformed the band, he admitted it was for the money many times. The film’s crucial flaw is that there is no on video interview with Chilton - there are audio interviews and some archive stuff but that’s all. Chilton, after all, wrote most of the band’s enduring songs.

It however does successfully tell the story of the band, and to some extent gets into the heads of the two songwriters, not from the outside but through the people who knew them. It’s very much a musos doc as oppose to a biography of the band; there is a lot of talk about the album’s production. I’m a massive fan of Big Star but, for the most part, couldn’t care less about the production techniques they used. This can also be said of anyone when they talk about the plus and minuses of album’s production.

Sadly there is very little footage of the band, mostly just silent footage of them in the studio. It’s a fascinating story of a band that nearly made it, but due to so many different factors didn’t quite make get there. What a different world we would live in if Big Star were as big as one of their contemporaries like Led Zeppelin. It’s very well made given the limitations they had, but if you're looking for a deeply insightful documentary into the minds of the bands’ songwriters you may come out of it disappointed.


Ian Schultz

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