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Music | Music DVD Revue: Musician & Attitude for Destruction



Appetite for Destruction
G N’ R Lies
The promise of Chinese Democracy
“November Rain”


The title alone reflects the brilliant simplicity of Daniel Kraus’ Work documentaries: By using fly-on-the-wall camera techniques, he captures professionals at their most mundane with moments of delicate intimacy. After working with ordinary preachers and sheriffs, Kraus turns his camera on Ken Vandermark, a Chicago-based musician who somehow makes a living playing manic, avant-garde jazz. In the opening shots, we see a visibly exhausted Vandermark composing pieces in his dank basement, often punctuating his toils with quiet profanity. The scene is quiet and, when intercut with Vandermark’s domestic duties around the house, might be considered boring. However, Kraus’ static camera and lack of narration builds an intriguing tension. Then, it cuts to his bands’ performance—a scorching rendition of his notation that would put the most abrasive noise-rockers to shame. As cheesy as it sounds, the film becomes a testament to the power of perseverance: All the lulls in Vandermark’s daily life (oblivious venues, touring and troubles at the Canadian border) disappear during those blistering performances. It would’ve been easy to turn this documentary into another life-is-hard-as-a-musician sob-story, but Vandermark’s enthusiasm for his niche-genre makes it emotionally inspiring.

Attitude for Destruction

Oh my. Reviewing a movie like Attitude for Destruction presents two conundrums: Do I review with a critical mindset this sordid tale about a Guns N’ Roses-esque band who kills their singer to gain a record deal—only to have him come back to take revenge (through a pact with the devil, of course)? Or do I just evoke my inner 14-year-old-on-nitrous and love the awfulness/greatness of this no-budget gore-fest? C’mon. How metal would I be if I picked the first choice? Delivering on its promise of “Rock & Roll, blood, guts and sluts” the opening scene shows a naked virgin sacrificed and her innards eaten while a metal band plays (or, lip-syncs … badly) in the background—and that’s one of the less-ridiculous highlights. But director Ford Austin makes the most of a limited budget and it’s clear that everyone is having a good time—and there’s enough unintentional hilarity to keep it from becoming self-aware (the drummer’s refusal to part with his drumsticks, and song-writing montages where it’s obvious the guitar player has never touched the instrument). Still not convinced? Take a shot every time there’s an awkward silence due to bad ADR/sound design and you won’t even care that the final showdown ends as a (spoiler alert!) dream.