Aug 3, 2014

Review: Kurt & Courtney (1998)

I've never been a fan of Kurt Cobain or his band Nirvana but I do have a lot of respect for the impact that he had on music. Respect but also a bit of contempt. That's because my favourite kind of rock is the kind that virtuosos make. Artists like Joe Satriani, Steve Vai and Yngwie Malmsteen are my bread and butter. The peak of their popularity was during the 80's when everyone loved elaborate guitar solos that bordered on indulgent. OK, make that totally indulgent but I don't care. There's nothing I love more than a good guitar solo.

Grunge is probably partly responsible for people starting to reject the extravagant 80's rock scene. It's rougher and more simplistic in terms of composition and also far easier to learn for prospective guitar players. Anyhow, Cobain was huge and his death was obviously a big shock to everyone. According to Nick Broomfield, some people refused to believe that Kurt Cobain would take his own life in his prime. Conspiracy theories bubbled up and many people pointed their fingers at Kurt's wife of two years Courtney Love.


Genre: documentary, biography, music
Directed by: Nick Broomfield
Produced by: Nick Broomfield, Michele d'Acosta, Nick Fraser, etc.
Written by: Nick Broomfield
Music by: David Bergeaud, Dylan Carlson
Running time: 95 minutes
Production company: Strength Ltd.
Distributed by: BMG Video, Roxie Releasing, Capitol Films
Country: United Kingdom
Language: English
Budget: N/A
Box office: $668,228 (North America)

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: Nick Broomfield, Kurt Cobain, Courtney Love





Documentary maker Nick Broomfield arrives in Seattle to get a closer look at Kurt Cobain's life as well as trying to figure out how and why he died. He visits important landmarks in Kurt's life as well as meeting people who knew him personally. The film changes directions as Nick Broomfield decides to look into Courtney Love's possible involvement of Kurt's death with great difficulty since she hasn't given permission for the documentary to be made and refuses to do any interviews.


Kurt & Courtney is as rough and stripped down as grunge music is. I suppose that could be alright but the thing is, it just seems terribly unprepared and unprofessional. Nick Broomfield doesn't make for a very nice narrator or interviewer. He doesn't make his subjects at ease and at times will try to get a reaction out of them. I can sympathize a bit with his difficulties in getting this documentary made due to the threat of legal action from Courtney Love as well as the possible loss of financial backing. He just sounds like a big whiner though when he mentions theses facts three times in the first ten minutes of the film and several more times later on.

I stopped feeling bad for Nick Broomfield pretty quick. It all just seems like an excuse for how shoddily this "documentary" is put together. The best example of this is showing up to a lottery building where Curt Cobain apparently used to shoot his BB gun at totally unannounced. The lady at the reception is understandably not pleased with a bunch of men with filming equipment in her lobby so she calls security. Dude, what did you expect?

The people that he interviews? Some incredibly shady and unstable characters who I really doubt can truly be trusted with what they're saying. How about Courtney Love's dad who's written two inflammatory books about her daughter? What about El Duce who's clearly intoxicated and probably insane? They aren't the only either. It's absolutely crazy that Nick Broomfield is comfortable in making thinly veiled accusations about Love's possible connection with Cobain's death using these people's interviews.

Kurt & Courtney is honestly just unbelievably sketchy. There is even an attempt at sneaking into a recording facility to get some time with Courtney Love, or more like get her to act crazy on camera. She must be crazy if she doesn't like cameras invading her personal space right? Crazy enough to kill Kurt Cobain crazy. Nick Broomfield is like a sleazy Michael Moore who's willing to use whoever it takes to prove his point. The ridiculous shift in gears from looking at Kurt Cobain's life to investigating Courtney Love is shameful and doesn't prove anything. One way or another I can't say if Love is responsible or not for Kurt Cobain's death but this film does absolutely nothing to further any side of the argument.



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