Sunday, October 14, 2012

Reviewing with Others, Pt. 23: Cure for Pain

It's a little late, but I'm not obligated to blog for the working week alone; I just prefer it and I think it's better for site traffic, honestly. I have a great set of posts for the new week, but I've had so much work that this week's review had to be delayed. Hence, I'm posting on a Sunday.

I watched Cure for Pain: The Mark Sandman Story, an indie documentary about the band, Morphine, whose lead singer died on-stage in 1998 during a concert. Morphine was a great group - they had a fantastic, unique sound that really had an impact and fans and other musicians.

Watching the doc told me all sorts of things that I never knew about Sandman's life. Equally as impressive was learning that all this time, I had been entertained by nothing more than a two-string bass, a drummer, and a man playing two saxophones at once. As Ben Harper more or less says in an interview for CfP: what the hell kind of band is that? It's almost a random set of instruments.

I liked Cure for Pain a lot. I think this pic will be a blessing for anyone who loves music, is interested in the life stories of musicians, or who loves the moody, primal sound of Morphine.

Read my review over here at Man, I Love Films if you want to learn more.


  1. I loved this film. It puts Sandman's music front and center, and doesn't fall into the regular "rise and fall" narrative you often see in music documentaries. As you note in the review, the director's visual style is interesting and he does produce some awesome effects: one that struck me was a mid-interview dissolve between one of Sandman's former room/bandmates talking and Sandman jamming, and back. The audio followed the dissolve, with Sandman's music taking foreground and the interviewee continuing to talk in the background. At its best, the direction and editing of the movie reproduce the trippy, mind-wandering quality Morphine's music often had. Every once in a while, though, the use of visual effects gets out of hand, and a foreign interview will be glossed with a rippling water effect, or concert footage will be shown with a distracting horizontal split-screen. Still, that visual twitchiness is extremely forgivable, since this is otherwise a very self-assured feature debut for the directors.

    1. Thanks, man! Yes, it is a great documentary and it is an atypical treatment of a deceased musician. CfP has a thesis and everything! You're also dead right in pointing out that scene, and the excellent use of audio to match the visual tricks...

      I also agree about the effects being a bit over-used. I remember once or twice feeling totally confused by the concert footage, in one instance asking myself "who shoots a concert this way?" But you are right yet again that it's a little hiccup in an outstanding production. Damn, I think I forgot that this is their first film.

    2. I can understand why they went for all the gimmicks, since they were trying to stay away from the visual tedium of the usual interview and concert clips. They may have also been trying to mask low-quality footage with the effects (kind of like blasting a subpar meal with hot sauce).

      The funny thing is, the first few times I thought, "Man, people were into some goofy video tricks back in the MTV 90s..." then I realized that the filmmakers had to be adding those effects, since they weren't consistently applied.


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