Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Shihad: Beautiful machine

I've been waiting to see some film reviewers tackle the new Shihad doco, as the only reviews I've read to date have been by avowed Shihad fanboys who lack a certain objectivity, shall we say. Here's a couple... if you're thinking of going to see it, go this week, it probably won't last another week, given Ant Timpson was reporting it was averaging 5 people per screen (over 50 screens nationwide)... gotta go check it...

  Helene Wong, NZ Listener, May 17: Shihad: Beautiful Machine " Fans will enjoy this inside look and its generous use of archive footage of both the onstage and offstage life of the band. If you’re not a fan, you’ll still appreciate the choice to focus on the personal stories, even though they track the familiar rise-and-fall arc of most band documentaries.

They’re frank about the personal highs and lows, and there’s a decent section on THAT decision to change their name when they went to conquer America. Although it would have been good to have explained why they chose as its replacement a word that Americans use for a baby’s dummy. I mean, what were they on? Oh, right. 

Overall, as competently made as it is, it never rises above mere document … except for the moment when we first clap eyes on Jon Toogood’s Mum’s splendid tat. Now there’s a story. 2.5/5 

Dominic Corry, Flicks.co.nz: " An impressively thorough and entertaining examination of the life (thus far) of one of New Zealand’s most popular bands, Shihad: Beautiful Machine may nevertheless have limited appeal for anyone not interested in Shihad to begin with.

The film takes a clear-eyed view of all aspects of the band’s history, most fascinatingly with regards to their ill-fated attempts to break America. The band members are all admirably frank about this and other topics, and the film brings to light certain conflicts that haven’t been discussed at length before – like guitarist Phil Knight’s drinking problem and the band’s increasing sense of isolation from lead singer Jon Toogood while in America.

The dysfunction makes for a great drama, even if it never quite elevates Beautiful Machine to the level of such iconic band docos as Some Kind of Monster or Anvil! The Story of Anvil. As a celebration of a band and their music, however, it cannot be faulted. It also does a good job of acknowledging the central role the band members’ significant others played in the life of the band.

Assessing whether or not this will play well to non-fans is difficult – I was caught up in every moment, but I love Shihad and I love documentaries about New Zealand subjects. If you have even the slightest interest in either of these topics, be sure to see this movie." 

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