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SXSW: Lemmy on Film


by Stephen Becker 16 Mar 2010

AUSTIN – Every year, South by Southwest features its share of music-related films. This is Austin. And this year is no exception. Among the films on the slate are The Runaways (starring Kristen Stewart as Joan Jett), a documentary on Brazilian music called Beyond Ipanema and Thunder Soul, which will play at the Dallas International […]

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AUSTIN – Every year, South by Southwest features its share of music-related films. This is Austin. And this year is no exception. Among the films on the slate are The Runaways (starring Kristen Stewart as Joan Jett), a documentary on Brazilian music called Beyond Ipanema and Thunder Soul, which will play at the Dallas International Film Festival in a few weeks.

On Monday night, I decided to take in Lemmy, a movie about Motorhead frontman Lemmy Kilmister that featured some of the best and worst elements of documentary filmmaking.

Let’s start with the best. Directors Greg Olliver and Wes Orshoski were granted incredible access as they interviewed the king of metal extensively and followed him to everywhere from recording sessions to a tour of Europe to his favorite bar stool at the Rainbow in Los Angeles, where he lives. Along the way, we learn of Lemmy’s fascination with collecting World War I and II mementos, his love of Jack and Cokes and why the rock legend chooses to live in a tiny apartment. When we’re not following Lemmy, a who’s who of metal icons (Ozzy, Metallica, Slash, etc.) trip all over each other to let us know what an influential musician/all around stud he is.

Sounds great so far, right?

The problem with the film is that there’s just too much of it. Olliver and Orshoski are clearly in awe of their subject; this is one of the most reverential docs you’ll ever see. If Lemmy is your idol, consider the film a church service. But after the 50th talking head says some version of “Lemmy is awesome,” it becomes repetitive quickly. And while the directors impressively capture that rock doc staple of the musician making that focused walk from backstage to the spotlight, do we really have to see it in Nashville, Berlin, Finland and Moscow? One of those is plenty, thanks.

At 90 minutes, Lemmy would have left me wanting to crank “Ace of Spades” on my way home. Two hours of Lemmy, though, was Lemmy overload for me. It’s hard to imagine that anything was held back from the film for the DVD.

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