DiG!

| August 5, 2005

With comparisons to Spinal Tap it would be easy to accept DiG! as a spoof documentary, but unbelievable this is reality cranked up to 11. Chances are you may have heard of The Dandy Warhols, their tune ‘Bohemian Like You’ featured on a mobile phone ad, leading to huge success in Europe. But The Brian Jonestown Massacre? Not exactly household names and if DiG! is anything to go by there’s no reason why you would have heard of them.
Newcombe becomes the focal point of the film, instigating fights with other band members as record executives watch on, kicking hecklers in the head and developing a destructive heroin addiction. At one point he is seen roller skating around New York, inebriated and dressed like a Cossack with a Jesus complex he mischievously hands out copies of his single ‘Not If You Were The Last Dandy On Earth’ at a Warhols concert. Yet it is clear he is something of a mad professor when it comes to music, hamstrung by neurotic tendencies, his personality defects never appear to get in the way of his creative process. He seems at his most content when playing one of his many instruments, producing beautifully crafted tunes with ease and at an incredible rate.
Anton’s musical genius is something that Taylor-Taylor can only praise and aspire to. At one point The Warhols even stage an unannounced photo shot in BJM’s ramshackle dwelling, in a barely repressed desire to emulate and project the anarchic, rock and roll attitude of Newcombe and his band as their own. The irony is that The Warhols proceed to lament on the disgusting nature of the surroundings, for them the image fits but the lifestyle doesn’t. Their inhabitations and materialism/professionalism hinder them from the kind of creative expression and freedom that Anton has.
Yet Newcombe’s inability to reconcile his desire to destroy the system and be a success leads to a subconscious (and sometimes conscious) desire to annihilate himself and the band. Newcombe’s disgust at The Warhols perceived sell out and jealousy at their success causes an irreconcilable breakdown in their friendship.
DiG doesn’t indulge in moral judgements or grotesque sensationalism; in fact despite going into meltdown The BJM appear to be having more fun than The Warhols, with only Taylor-Taylor having a sense of humour. The movie is almost stolen by BJM band member Joel Gion, his witty and outrageous behaviour coupled with his amicable nature seems at times to be holding the whole band together. Whilst loving the ride that Newcombe takes him on he also has a keen awareness of his friends egotistical proclivities, at one point he holds a picture of Jesus in front of his face and claims to be Anton.
Culling 2 hours of footage from 1,500, yet creating a film that entertains and informs is testament to Timoner’s judicious editing restraint. Just for Newcombe’s antics alone DiG! has to be seen to be believed.

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