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The Brian Jonestown Massacre
The Dandy Warhols.
Ondi Timoner.
Ondi Timoner.
Running Time
107 minutes

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Seven years in the making, this documentary tracks, then-unknown, US bands The Dandy Warhols and The Brian Jonestown Massacre as they launch their musical careers. Pretty soon the Dandys make it big, while Jonestown start to crumble under the weight of their frontman’s ego…

You’ve heard about the successful band that implodes in a frenzy of clashing egos and copious drugs. Now hear about the unsigned band that reaches rock meltdown way ahead of widespread recognition and fat paycheques. Our troubled troubadours are retro-psychedelics The Brian Jonestown Massacre, and this rock opera of a documentary follows them as they kick-start a “musical revolution” along with soulmates The Dandy Warhols.

Thing is, while the Dandys bugger off to Europe and make it big, the apparently more talented Jonestown achieve devolution, not revolution, shedding band members like confetti, and the only thing lead man Anton Newcombe kicks is a punter’s face after he’s heckled on stage. But what filmmaker Ondi Timoner is left with is a gripping record of creative angst and deteriorating relationships.

DiG! is a dizzying collage, thrumming with the energy of a live performance; a jam session of colour and monochrome, a medley of performances, arguments and parties. With its epic timeframe — Timoner cut from 1,500 hours of footage — this is the documentarian’s equivalent of the Method. Living, touring and partying with her subjects, Timoner puts us centre-front for the gig.

We’re there as Jonestown get busted for drugs, as their manager deserts mid-tour, as they hoover narcotics from the coffee table. And the spectacle of the unfolding inter-band schism is grimly hilarious, culminating with Newcombe delivering shotgun shells to the Dandys’ dressing room. In equal measure, moments of pathos permeate, such as when a maudlin Joel Gion (the band’s scene-stealing Bez figure) reflects on how he’s wasted four years being little more than a drug-addled tambourine man.

As riveting as this mêlée of spiralling egos is, DiG! earns its fifth and final star as a microcosm of ‘indie’ music on the cusp of corporate take-over. Stupendous serendipity has gifted Timoner the perfect parable of the 1990s music industry. While Newcombe’s deranged commitment to the indie spirit precludes his success, The Dandys trigger a new, thoroughly modern mechanism of music marketing, becoming huge off a mobile phone advert. Where once plugging a product would be the death-knell for artistic credibility, in these days of corporate cool-hunters and sponsored tours, it’s almost a prerequisite.

A vibrant and vivid documentary masterwork, DiG! will have you celebrating independent filmmaking while lamenting the state of independent music-making.

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Average user rating for DiG!
Empire Star Rating

If you're not a fan of either acts, there's nothing here for you ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by david hayes at 23:04, 16 May 2010 | Report This Post

If you're not a fan of either acts, there's nothing here for you ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by david hayes at 23:04, 16 May 2010 | Report This Post

"the lead singer of the brians jonestown massacre couldnt be made up!"

How ironic a statement by a naive music fan? That's exactly what this mockumentary is, 'made up'. This is a rather well done promotional exercise by a all-powerful corporation with almost unllimited funds at their disposal. So good, it even fooled Empire, unless of course they were bought, and it wouldn't be the first time, or the last (See Superman Returns and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crytsal Skull). ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Cameron1975Williams at 22:25, 11 June 2008 | Report This Post

RE: Outstanding

brilliant, i wouldnt say just a must for rock fans but anyone who likes a good story full stop. the lead singer of the brians jonestown massacre couldnt be made up! one of the best films of last year. 4/5 ... More

Posted by boot at 21:13, 12 March 2006 | Report This Post


Hilarious, scary, cool, fascinating, gorgeous. A must for rock fans. ... More

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Posted by Caster at 02:34, 12 March 2006 | Report This Post

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