a documentary about the band wilco. they claim to be indie and have the morals indie rockers look up to. they claim to not be the kind of material fit for an episode of “behind the music”, but that is all this movie essentially is. at one point (when they drop one of their members from the band) the film seems to take on a mockmentary feel. the manager is suddenly dressed in a turtleneck shirt with sunglasses (he’s inside), the band is gathered around in their version of a sewing circle and both parties tell the audience their feelings on the recent loss of their bandmate. one member says “i’ve been friends with jay (the now ex-band member) for 16 or 17 years and i guess our friendship just ran its course. another member says he’s happy jay is gone. the manager adds that the band is better without him. jay, when telling his side of the story, says that the singer told him that the band is a circle and can only have one center…implying that that center is the singer and that jay needs to leave. at first i thought they were having some fun and just playing a joke, but it soon becomes evident that jay is a goner and that this band (for several reasons) isn’t that much different from the regular subjects of “behind the music.” their talent is undeniable, but don’t make them out to be indie rock’s moral compass or any of that crap. the movie itself should be condensed into about 10 minutes. you find out very little about the group dynamics, the personalities involved, or the music industry in general. some of those things are lightly touched upon, but much of the time that could have been used exploring those was filled with them playing music. the major drama of the film – them trying to get their record released on their terms was dealt with in a rather murky way and actually reports from other sources are much more enlightening. the film itself is crap and the band leaves me utterly indifferent. i like their music and wish i hadn’t sought to learn anything about its origins. what it comes down to is this: if you like the band a lot you’ll find reason to like the movie, but if you are neutral or against the band then you probably won’t be too impressed. they feel sorry for themselves a lot when really they’re a pretty big band with lots of options and it’s hard to feel bad for them when they got such a sweet deal in so many ways.
just read this one from imdb.com and i think it’s pretty much spot on:
Date: 8 August 2002
Summary: Self-Important, promotional, shallow dreck
I went into this film with expectations, from the hype, that it would be insightful and uplifting. Certainly something more than a cheap promotional for the band “Wilco.”
Instead we get a lot of moping and whining about “the process,” a dishonorable and no doubt one-sided portrayal of one band members who was kicked out by the prima donna lead singer/songwriter, a gut-wrenching confession by the fallen member’s friend — for like 18 years — saying the “friendship had run its course,” and this whiny, uncompelling story about how one record label “hurt their feelings” by dumping them, only so that the band could immediately get 50 offers from other labels (oh, the tension…not!) They tried their best to make it look like it was a strain, but I suspect it was all smoke and mirrors to generate a tragedy that didn’t exist. This doesn’t even take into account the long stretches where we get many of their newest songs shoved at us in full without any storyline, insight or even a decent job at cinematography. The strained attempts at emotional sincerity or reasonable perspective on life made me sick to watch.
From the film, this band sounds like a bunch of vile little babies who poke around to find a voice they don’t have and think they’re some kind of guardians for the art of music, which they most definitely are not. And I thought the music sucked, and I couldn’t even understand the lyrics due to the mumbling style of the lead singer.
I give it a 2/10.”