Metallica: This Monster Lives

Metallica: This Monster Lives by Joe Berlinger, Greg Milner

Book: Metallica: This Monster Lives by Joe Berlinger, Greg Milner Read Free Book Online
Authors: Joe Berlinger, Greg Milner
Tags: music, Genres & Styles, Rock
James was opening up the lyric-writing process. 2 Metallica really did seem like a young band, a little shy with each other but thrilled by their collective buzz. Their childlike enthusiasm was genuinely touching.
    So why did I have the sneaking suspicion that what I was hearing was, to use one of Metallica’s favorite derisive terms, pretty “stock”?
    I mean, the music sounded okay , but it seemed to occupy some bland middle ground. It didn’t sound like the old Metallica or a compelling version of a new Metallica. I questioned my judgment, however, because the guys were so excited. Besides, what did I know? By the time we finished making Monster , I would feel like a Metallica expert, but at this point my knowledge of the music was mostly limited to what we used in the Paradise Lost films. I’d gone through a brief Black Sabbath phase in my youth, although I was always more into the Stones and the Dead. More recently, my tastes had run more to the Cure and the Clash. Mine may not have been an expert opinion, but I did have some idea of what Metallica were capable of, owing to the songs we had used in Paradise Lost and my work with the band on VH1’s FanClub. It never occurred to me that what I was hearing at the Presidio would one day evolve into an album as great as St. Anger , but my main impetus in making a Metallica movie had never been the music. I was more interested in the disconnect between their onstage image and who they were as people. I was fascinated by their business savvy and also by the complex dynamic between James and Lars. I wanted to make a film that would tackle stereotypes in much the same way as Brother’s Keeper and Paradise Lost had done.
    I was, however, concerned about the quality of the music inasmuch as it pertained to the job we were hired to do. Remember, we were being paid to put together an infomercial about the making of an album. We hoped somehow toelevate the project by delving into Metallica’s personal lives, but that was really a secondary consideration. I was glad to be working again and didn’t want to screw this up. If this album wasn’t headed for greatness—and it didn’t really sound to me like it was—making a decent promo film would be that much harder.
    To the extent that I did dream of this film becoming more personal and less promotional, I was less bothered by the music than I was by the lack of focus and often superficial nature of much of the therapy. Although I had been immediately struck by the parallels between what these guys were going through and the situation with Bruce and me, after several sessions I began to feel that they were barely scratching the surface. I had recently spent a few sessions with a therapist in New York, to help me deal with the helplessness and despair caused by the Blair Witch 2 fallout, so it was incredible—not to mention inspirational—to see guys like this even attempt group therapy Still, I couldn’t help noticing that they were circling around important issues, veering off into a million tangents, and issuing “breakthroughs” like “I’m really getting to know you.” To make the film we really wanted to make, we’d have to find a way to make the therapy work cinematically. As a filmmaker who mentally edits during shooting, I was starting to realize the challenge of presenting meandering, discursive conversations with no real resolution in such a way that would be interesting to watch while remaining true to their essence.
    I was particularly concerned about James in this regard. He just wasn’t saying much in the sessions. It wouldn’t do to have a Metallica film where the band’s leader stays silent. James didn’t look bored—he looked positively uncomfortable. It began to dawn on me that the therapy, though at times apparently superficial, was dredging something up in James. I couldn’t say just what. But if you go back to the earliest therapy scene in Monster —the one where Lars wonders aloud if our

Similar Books

The Night Beat


The Betrothed Sister

Carol McGrath

Marking Time

Marie Force

Medicine Cup

Bill Clem

Element, Part 1

CM Doporto

Gravity's Chain

Alan Goodwin