KURT AND COURTNEY Add To My Top 10
Death of a Rockman
Release Date: February 27, 1998
Audience: Older teenagers & young adults
Rating: Unrated by MPAA
Runtime: 95 minutes
Distributor: Roxie Releasing
Director: Nick Broomfield
Executive Producer: Nick Frazer
Producer: Tine Van Den Brande & Michael D'Acosta
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(Pa, LLL, S, A, D, M) Pagan worldview examination of an alleged suicide by rock musician Kurt Cobain with free-speech elements; 29 obscenities, 6 profanities & a few vulgarities; no violence, but discussion of suicide; no sex but discussion with sexual deviants; no nudity but skimpy costumes; alcohol use; smoking & discussion of drug use; and, miscellaneous immorality including lying, bad-mouthing others, unauthorized filming.
KURT AND COURTNEY is an unintentionally farcical, shallow account of British director Nick Broomfield's attempt to get to the bottom of Nirvana lead-singer Kurt Cobain's suicide. Interviewing many bit players, friends and family, the movie evolves into a story about why Cobain's widow Courtney Love wants to ban it from release. Containing a pagan worldview, it shows rage, confusion, unforgiveness, and anger amongst the Seattle area rock scene.
Brazen rock stars, English accents, shady characters, insults and threats, documentary cameras, and more! Is this SPINAL TAP? No, but it just might as well have been. KURT AND COURTNEY is an unintentionally farcical, shallow account of British director Nick Broomfield's attempt to get to the bottom of Nirvana lead-singer Kurt Cobain's suicide. Garnering notoriety as the most talked-about film that didn't play at the Sundance Film Festival (because Courtney Love, Cobain's widow, blocked it), it is a schlocky, unfocused, but occasionally amusing look at the possibility that Cobain may not have killed himself, but was the target of a murder.
Created by the same person who baited Heidi Fleiss associates to talk by forking over cash, this documentary interviews several bit-players, Nirvana wannabes, friends, neighbors, and more to find out the true relationship between the two star-crossed lovers.
First a little history. Kurt Cobain hailed from the Seattle area of Washington and formed the punk, now dubbed "grunge," musical group Nirvana in the late 1980s. In the early 90s, the group became very popular with young people worldwide, with their most popular song being "Smell's like Teen Spirit." Cobain was found dead in his apartment in 1994, of an apparent gun shot wound, and the officials dubbed it suicide.
Broomfield states near the beginning that he doesn't have any agenda in the story, but simply wants to understand the slain rock star and his relationship with his wife. Broomfield interviews Love's father, Hank Harrison, who has little good to say about her and used pit bulls to discipline her as a child; and, Dylan Carlson, Cobain's best friend, who seems very reserved and guarded about Cobain's alleged suicide. Broomfield questions a policeman on the scene, Tom Grant, who is convinced Cobain was murdered. The audience also meets the housekeeper, a few mystery people claiming to be friends of the band, and Cobain's former girlfriend whom he lived with for three years.
Perhaps the most interesting subject in KURT AND COURTNEY is a front-man for a death metal band named El Duce, who claims that Love offered him $50,000 to kill Cobain. Broomfield later tells the audience that El Duce died a few weeks after the meeting. The audience also meets Love herself at an ACLU dinner championing free speech.
The movie ends with a hilarious bit of irony. When Broomfield takes to the stage to question Love's role in Cobain's death, the crowd boos and ushers quickly escort him down.
This movie received great criticism from Love who claims that it is defamatory. If she was involved in Cobain's death, then she has reason to be afraid. Yet, most of the interviewees seem so frivolous and unaware of the true facts, that not only is the journalism inconclusive and shallow, but the case regarding Love is unmerited. In reality, the strongest statement against the movie was the fact that it included portions of Nirvana songs and songs from Love's band Hole, which were not licensed for broadcast to Broomfield. Broomfield cut the songs from the documentary and tells the audience where they would have played.
Few lessons are learned in this movie. Nirvana and Cobain fans already know he had a drug problem, that his relationship with Love was strained and that he was suicidal. These things are well documented. Nirvana fans may enjoy viewing some of the Seattle-area countryside and getting a glimpse at a few people who at least claim to have known him. However, all in all, this grainy, rabbit trail investigation leaves much to be desired, and ultimately states that free speech might not be so free. The movie begs that a more thorough and professional investigative report be made on the theory that Cobain may have been killed. As it stands, it is a mildly amusing story of two lost souls, their lost companions and family members, and a superficial look at one who lost his life and the rage possessing the survivor.