Rock doc shocks Jock. I'm not a disc jockey, but I couldn't resist that line. I will admit to shock, however, since I had no real knowledge of Le Tigre prior to watching this 70-minute movie (just vague awareness of Kathleen Hanna/Bikini Kill/ and the attendant feminist Politics). Knowing nothing about the music or personalities involved in Le Tigre, I came away shocked at how much I now love this band. Among many reasons is the fact that this is a fabulous tour documentary full of wit, style and intelligence - plus it looks and sounds great, from its packaging on. If you're a serious music fan this is pretty much a solid blind buy, must have, or what have you.
Director Kerthy Fix followed the band on its International Farewell Tour in 2004/05, (the band went back into the studio in 2009 as well as doing other interesting work ...) culling awesome onstage footage and audio, plus plenty of backstage scenes, amusing skits, and interviews. Resulting is an immersive and engrossing diary that gives you, the viewer, a good working knowledge of the band, appreciation of its catchy music, and insight into members Kathleen Hanna, JD Samson and Johanna Fateman as artists and people. It's a perfect document, mirroring the band's own deft blend of politics, humor and fun. There's no way you're going to feel preached at while absorbing the band's LGBT/Queer-positive/Feminist message, since it's presented with common-sense positivity, backed by a beat that will get you moving.
Fix first blends four shows; Hamburg, Tokyo, Copenhagen, and Sydney - inter-cutting whole tunes between the four setups. Establishing a number of things from the band's global influence to their super-tight stage show, Fix goes way beyond just setting up cameras as some bloated British rock stars go through the motions. After this rollicking opening we go backstage, on the tour bus, and into hotel rooms. Off the bat, it's clear that Hanna is hilarious. Her shtick about the food on their backstage rider is worthy of a standup routine. As the tour rolls on things just get better. The band trashes a clueless New Zealand DJ, fans in Indianapolis reveal the importance of such a band to kids in The Middle, and we even get a Benny Hill-styled physical comedy routine in a hotel gym.
It's not all fun and games, though, even if it never seems to get serious. The songs continue to rock and the message gets louder - "fifty years of ridicule" becomes a rallying cry - but peace and happiness prevails. JD Samson speaks candidly about her role as "the woman with the mustache," which, along with her performances, (they call her the Justin Timberlake of the group) simply proves she's a really cool person. When Hanna talks about the early 1990s 'Riot Grrl' movement, throwing out terms like "horizontal resistance," you're still inclined mostly to think, "oh, of course! Why shouldn't women and gays want to be treated equally, especially in the world of rock?"
It's why Le Tigre, and Kerthy Fix's documentary, is so marvelous. It's all about The Rock, even if it isn't only about The Rock. Even if you, like me, want to adopt Fateman's vitamin regimen as a way to show that you can party smart, or realize that you need to check yourself the next time you see a woman with facial hair, it comes down to enjoying what you do, who you are, and letting everyone know that that's OK. That's also why Hanna incorporates goofy/cool choreography into the show - no one is afraid to look like a dork while they're dancing, and no one is afraid to treat their fellow humans with respect. Packed with great extras, full of awesome, high-quality audio, brimming with fun and thoughtful interviews that are never pedantic - this is a truly special rock tour documentary, one of the best.