Movie Review By Erik Petersen
Unless you were one of the lucky few who caught the controversial midnight showing last year at Sundance or its short lived run in some scattered art house theaters you probably haven't seen "Kurt and Courtney", this week's video review. This 1998 documentary was directed by guerrilla filmmaker Nick Broomfield who gained fame with his notorious documentaries "Heidi Fleiss: Hollywood Madam" and "Aileen Wuornos: The Selling of a Serial Killer."
The film opens with Kurt Cobain's death in 1994, an apparent suicide at age twenty-seven. Then, like Alice through the looking glass, we weave our way through a fascinating array of characters. There's Kurt's best friend Dillon, the greasy rocker who consorts with armed drug dealers. Dillon bought Kurt the shotgun he later used on himself. There's also Tom Grant, the P.I. Courtney Love hired whoís convinced Cobain was murdered. Later we meet El Duce; the aging drug addled rocker. He claims to have been offered fifty thousand dollars by Courtney Love to kill Cobain. There's also Kurt's cheery Aunt Mary who recorded his earliest songs when he was a child and the girlfriend who lived with Kurt for three years and shows us some of Kurt's paintings.
The focus of the film though becomes Courtney Love. The more people Broomfield talks to the clearer picture we get of Love. She's consistently portrayed as calculating, manipulative and violent.
The most gratifying moment occurs when Broomfield finally confronts Love and the ACLU hypocrites who had the gumption to honor her. Love's commitment to free speech seems to include physically attacking journalists and exerting major legal and financial pressure to have Broomfieldís documentary shut down.
"Kurt and Courtney" is a sad, funny and ultimately fascinating look at the price of stardom. Although she's thoroughly vilified you're left with the feeling that maybe Love's Machiavellian approach allowed her to survive while the gentler Cobain surrendered.
© 1999 - Erik Petersen - Air Date: 2/10/99
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