Some Kind of Monster
Bruce Sinofsky and Joe Berliner are best known for what
one critic dubbed their “murder documentaries.” The first,
1992’s Brothers Keeper, was the riveting story of
Central New York’s geriatric, hermit-like Ward brothers,
and how their rural neighbors supported them when Delbert
was accused of murdering brother Bill. The two Paradise
Lost films followed, in which the exact opposite happened:
The grisly murder of three children brought the small town
of West Memphis, Ark., together against three Goth, metal-loving
teens who were railroaded into prison on a wave of prejudice
and questionable evidence.
The new documentary from the filmmaking duo couldn’t be
Some Kind of Monster chronicles the making of the multiplatinum
metal band’s latest disc, St. Anger. What was supposed
to be a simple “making of”-style documentary became something
much more: On the first day Sinofsky and Berlinger showed
up, Metallica were in the middle of a group therapy session
with a licensed therapist. And things weren’t going well.
(Though Metallica had the full support of someone . . .
their corporate masters, AOL Time Warner.)
day one,” Sinofsky remembered in a recent telephone interview,
“Joe and I gave each other that knowing look, realizing
that there was a greater story here than the making of an
This began a two-and-a-half year journey for both the filmmakers
and the band. As Metallica tried to figure out if they could
still make music together, Sinofsky and Berlinger were on
hand every step of the way to capture the drama. And what
drama: James Hetfield disappeared for nine months, in rehab,
and returned a changed, subdued man; drummer Lars Ulrich
came to terms with the new order of things, and received
some blunt words of wisdom from his Gandalf-esque father;
and guitarist Kirk Hammett persevered. In this sense, Sinofsky
argued, Some Kind of Monster isn’t that different
from their earlier documentaries.
really about the act of discovery,” he said. It’s about
getting to know who these guys really are, Sinofsky added,
and finding the connecting narrative fiber that makes what
they’re going through a compelling human drama.
also about breaking down stereotypes,” Sinofsky observed.
After all, Metallica are the macho kings of metal, and here
they’re shown as sensitive guys working through their problems.
a strong, positive message about mental health.”
And, he added, Metallica “are very happy with it.” Nothing
supports this statement better than the fact that Metallica
are showing the trailer for the film to audiences every
night on their current tour.
Asked about the current lives of the folks in their earlier
films, the news is decidedly mixed. While the quiet Lymon
Ward is well, formerly sprightly Roscoe is very ill in a
nursing home. Delbert died in 1998; Sinofsky and Berlinger
not only attended the funeral, they paid for it. (And bought
gravemarkers for all the brothers, too.) As for the West
Memphis Three of Paradise Lost, Sinofsky said that
this is Damian Echols’ last year: He will either earn a
federal appeal of his trial and death sentence, or he will
be executed. The filmmakers have started preliminary work
on a third Paradise Lost film for HBO.
Some Kind of Monster opens tomorrow (Friday, Oct. 15)
at the Spectrum 8 Theatres (290 Delaware Ave., Albany).
Bruce Sinofsky and Joe Berlinger will lead a Q & A session
after the first screening on Friday evening. For show times
and information, call 449-8995 or visit www.spectrum8.com.
lang with the Albany Symphony Orchestra
burrowing her way into pop culture’s collective unconsciousness
nearly 20 years ago, k.d. lang has recorded in and, some
might say, mastered more genres than most songwriters have
songs. She’s dabbled in country, pop, dance, and torch music,
all with the same high degree of professionalism and quality.
For her latest album, Hymns From the 49th Parallel,
lang finally gets around to tackling the songs of her fellow
Canadians, reinventing them, she has said, “as hymns . .
. simply songs of praise.” Backed by only piano, bass and
guitar, she captures the desolate hush of that forgotten
North Ontario town in Neil Young’s “Helpless,” and locates
the spiritual heart in Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” (The
album also features songs by Jane Siberry, Joni Mitchell,
and Bruce Cockburn, among others.)
k.d. lang will be joined by the Albany Symphony Orchestra
as she revisits a career of constant crooning on Saturday
(Oct. 16) at the Palace Theatre (19 Clinton Ave., Albany).
Tickets for the 8 PM show are $55 and $65, and are available
at the Palace box office at 465-3334 or through Ticketmaster
planners, both the professionals and the devoted amateurs,
will tell you that there’s a fine art to assembling a guest
list (the very existence of a professional class of party
planners should indicate that this is an involved procedure).
Beginning tonight (Thursday), the Tang Teaching Museum and
Gallery will host a three-night party, the guest list for
which is impossibly great. Literally impossible.
conjunction with an exhibit celebrating composer George
Crumb’s 75th birthday, the Tang is welcoming the astronomer
Edwin Hubble, for whom the telescope is named and who discovered
the concept of the expanding universe, the German poet Rainer
Maria Rilke, and Nut, the Egyptian goddess of the sky, among
others. The party will be hosted by Charles and Ray Eames,
the husband-and-wife design team who defined mid-century
Yes, sharp-eyed readers, save the birthday boy himself,
all of those people are dead. They’ll be portrayed by actors
and interviewed Fresh Air-style by the evening’s
producer, associate professor of art Margo Mensing. (Prior
to the formal interviews, the characters will be snacking
and mingling, so feel free to introduce yourself.)
After the socializing there will be a live performance of
Crumb’s 1974 work for piano and percussion, Music for
a Summer Evening: Makrokosmos III, which was scored
to include among its percussive instruments both Tibetan
prayer stones and the jawbone of an ass. Seriously.
will be performed at the Tang Teaching Museum and Art
Gallery (Skidmore College, 815 N. Broadway, Saratoga Springs)
beginning tonight (Thursday) and running through Oct. 17.
Tickets for the 7 PM shows are $5 (cash only). For more
information, call 580-8080.