January 23, 2007

Review: "Half-Cocked" DVD [MP3]

Half-CockedTwelve years on, "Half-Cocked" is as crucial a document of a small slice of the pre-Internet indie rock scene as Michael Azerrad's book "Our Band Could Be Your Life" is of the pre-major label, pre-FM-embraced alternative rock scene. It captures a time when lunkheads actually called alternative kids "art f*g" (an uncontested put-down delivered in the film's fifth minute), if you can believe it. A time when access to a copy machine with which to run off free copies of show flyers was a big deal. No one uses cell phones. And it's true -- there are no references to the Internet.

"Half-Cocked," shot in grainy, high-contrast black and white and previously only available via a VHS release in 1997, opens with legendary angular rockers Rodan's moving instrumental "Bible Silver Corner." The story itself celebrates the DIY indie scene of the early '90s in Louisville. It centers on a squat populated by self-styled musicians and artists with anti-haircuts strewn about on thrift store furniture, smoking and shooting Polaroids, slacker than the slackers in "Slacker." The plot focuses on a subset of disaffected youth, led by Tara Jane O'Neil, that absconds with a van full of music gear and subsequently passes themselves off as a touring indie rock act in order to avoid facing up to O'Neil's brother (hysterically played by Nation Of Ulysses'/Make Up's Ian Svenonius). Outside of its historical context a plot concerned with non-musicians successfully playing shows along the I-40 in the American South seems almost satirical. But the fact of the matter is that in certain music scenes at that time it wasn't all that unusual for kids to take the stage with substantially more aesthetic vision than musical skill.

"Half-Cocked" was shot in just over two weeks in Louisville, Nashville and Chattanooga. While there are scads of '90s Southern indie rock luminaries starring in the picture, there are few live performances. A real treat is seeing The Grifters rip through their excellent track "She Blows Blasts Of Static" at the end of the film. Although the live performances are few, the soundtrack is amazing, and features cuts by Versus, Unwound and Polvo. The DVD -- the promo version of it, anyway -- contains scads of excellent extras, including the snippet "Lost In Spain" which describes the Spanish tour for "Half-Cocked" that was packaged with a Come tour and all shot as a second feature "Radiation," which is also on the disc. Also included are a few sets of still photos and some live musical outtakes from "Half-Cocked," although this is only presented as audio, sadly. The packaging promises even more additional content will be included with a collection that is already a boon for those who want street-level insight into '90s bands who laid the foundation for much of the indie music that has followed. Filmmakers Suki Hawley and Michael Galinsky will be promoting the DVD in numerous cities throughout February, and we've included the dates below. In the meantime, how about checking out these MP3s of songs used in the film?

Polvo -- "Can I Ride" -- Jesus Christ Records double 7" [CD reissue 1995]
The Grifters -- "She Blows Blasts Of Static" -- One Sock Missing [1993]
[just click]

Pre-order "Half-Cocked" from Newbury Comics here.
Buy Polvo CDs here.
Buy Grifters CDs here.

"Half-Cocked": InterWeb | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

02/07 -- Richmond, VA -- Hyperlink Cafe
02/07 -- Seattle, WA -- NW Film Forum
02/10 -- Cleveland, OH -- Parish Hall
02/11 -- Brooklyn, NY -- Rope/Myrtle Ave
02/12 -- Austin, TX -- Alamo Draft house
02/07-14 -- Boston, MA -- The Video Underground
02/13 -- New York, NY -- Anthology Film Archives
02/25 -- Albuquerque, NM -- Guild Cinema

1 comment:

michael said...

halfcockedfilm.com is now up with trailers clips songs videos press materials etc.