November 12, 2006

Review: The Pixies | loudQUIETloud [DVD]

The Pixies -- loudQUIETloudYou will see the following quote in every review of the Pixies documentary "loudQUIETloud." Not far into the film Charles Thompson, he also known as Black Francis and Frank Black, admits that "[The Pixies] don't talk to each other that much. And it's not that we don't like each other, it's just that that's the kind of people that we are." This characterizes in a tidy manner the non-raderie of the band on its 2004 reunion tour. It's the kind of discomfort that inaudibly screams throughout a scene in which guitarist Joey Santiago, Mr. Thompson and drummer David Lovering sit together silently at folding tables, fiddling with their cell phones. Before the first show of the tour someone in the band proposes a toast (with non-alcoholic champagne, as bassist Kim Deal began rehabilitation for alcohol in 2002), and there is a moment of silence as no one knows what to toast to. Ms. Deal's twin sister and foil Kelley, who accompanied the Pixies tour at her sister's insistence and has had her own struggles with addiction, plays an interesting role as an quasi-omniscient narrator, offering pointed analysis in real-time of the curious aphasia and tensions among the band. It takes Thompson two days to tell the band that his wife is having a child.

The Pixies -- loudQUIETloudBut, although the film makers insist the film (which must have seen ominously static to them as they were capturing the footage) is about a band whose members can only communicate whilst performing, and although superficial blog posts will focus more broadly on Dinosaur-sized intraband dysfunction if anything at all, the over-arching theme of "loudQUIETloud" is uncertainty. Uncertainty that is even greater than "Will the Pixies record a new album?" Can Deal stay sober? Will the new Breeders material she writes -- while riding in an RV separate from the band with Kelley -- drive a wedge between her and the rest of The Pixies? Can Mr. Lovering, whose bi-annual royalty checks have dwindled and who prior to the tour considered "magician" and "metal detector" his primary avocations, dispel the demons that he fights off with red wine and Valium in the wake of his father's death? Will Mr. Santiago speak up? Will Thompson, who at the end of the film characterizes his current solo records as a form of passive-aggressive pressure on his bandmates to write new Pixies material, ever just ask them? Will he get what he now seems to want?

While the film relays many, many more questions than it answers, it is far from impotent. Although the film makers never show a complete song being performed, a decision that emphasizes the sense of uncertainty that imbues the film, the live footage presented is electric and arresting. The band sounds as otherworldly and exciting as ever, despite the missing hair and gained pounds. Sure, you bought the eponymous Pixies DVD 4AD released in 2004, but this is a different beast altogether. If you didn't get a chance to see it in the theater, you can already order the DVD from distributor MVD at the link below.

"loudQUIETloud" trailer | official web site | MVD site | Buy It

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