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Awesome; I Fuckin' Shot That!
I've been to three Beastie Boys concerts in my day, the first one from their inaugural "Licensed to Ill" tour in which they headlined with Run DMC in 1987. I've also worn out three copies of their "Paul's Boutique" CD, memorized practically every one of their wonderfully arcane lyrics, and purchased their Criterion Collection DVD as gifts for three different friends. They're one of the very few bands that I've never grown tired of -- over a span of two decades. Clearly I'm a big freakin' fan. So trust me when I say this: Awesome; I Fuckin' Shot That! is the next best thing to see the Boys in person, and in some ways it's even better.
So what makes Awesome different than your normal, run-of-the-mill, point & shoot concert movie? Well, the gimmick is this: For one particularly raucous concert at Madison Square Garden, the Beastie Boys decided to loan out 50 Hi-Def cameras to random concert-goers before offering the following instructions: "Film what you want." The resulting footage was then edited together by director Nathanial Hornblower (aka Beastie Boy Adam Yauch) to deliver a final product that some may (fairly) dismiss as "hyper-edited to the point of epilepsy" -- but I suspect that the hardcore Beastie fans will devour this flick with two greedy fists and come up begging for more.
Oh sure, any worthwhile concert film will give you clean audio, commendable video work, and a solid handful of "greatest hits" material, but rare is the concert flick that will make you feel like you're part of the crowd. And Awesome goes even further than that, using a hyper-kinetic editing style and special camera effects that give the funky baselines and mega-ill rhymes that extra dose of B-boy oomph.
Recommended almost exclusively to the "already fans," Awesome; I Fuckin' Shot That! is a 90-minute Beastie Bash that had me tapping my toes, stomping my feet, and mouthing along to the lyrics like a true-blue Grand Royal geek. (The people near me in the screening probably wanted to wring my neck, but now that the movie's on DVD, I can sing along all I want. I might even dance, too.)
My opinion of this unique, exciting, and rowdily refreshing concert flick may be influenced by the fact that I simply L-O-V-E the band ... but really; who else was this movie made for except for the old-school Beastie faithful?
2. Mix Master Mike Intro
3. Triple Trouble
4. Sure Shot
5. Root Down
6. Hello Brooklyn
7. Time to Get Ill
8. All Lifestyles
9. Pass the Mic
10. Shake Your Rump
11. MMM Interlude
13. Ricky's Theme
14. Something's Got to Give
15. Open Letter to NYC
16. Right Right Now Now
17. Paul Revere
18. Body Movin'
19. Three MCs and One DJ
20. Brass Monkey
21. So What'cha Want
22. Ch-Ch-Check It Out
And no, they don't play "Fight For Your Right to Party," and if that's the track you're looking for, dare I say this movie's probably not for you.
Video: We're talking about a film that's 90% handheld DV footage, so obviously we're not getting a mega-polished production here, but that just adds to the charm of the project. For what it's worth, the anamorphic widescreen transfer looks as good as the flick did when I saw it at Sundance. Yeah, the Beastie Boys concert movie played at Sundance!
Audio: You got your Dolby Digital 2.0 and your 5.1 tracks, and they're just dandy, but you also get a feature-length acapella track that really is cool! (Especially for you newbies who are still trying to learn all the lyrics.) And if the a capella track isn't helpful enough, the platter comes with English subtitles, too. (ALL CAPS, but still pretty cool.) So now there's no excuse for not knowing the words to Triple Trouble.
If you happen to own the fantastic Criterion Collection Beastie Boys release, then you're already well aware that the guys love to get allfunkified on the multimedia, and that's certainly the case with the Awesome DVD. Hats off to the Boys and to ThinkFilm for treating the fans to some truly fun stuff.
Main Film Extras
Grid Angle -- Watch the movie as a series of grid blocks. It wouldn't be my first choice, but it's a very nifty option. And since I'll be spinning this disc numerous times (just for the music), themulti-multi-multi-screen "grid angle" makes for a welcome diversion.
Insightful Band Commentary -- The trio kick back for a typically irreverent chat-track. There's some attention paid to the movie, the music, and the technical stuff, but the boys don't seem all that enamored with the commentary process, and kinda run out of steam as the movie goes on. Fans will dig even the low-key ramblings -- and since they're the only ones who bought the DVD, it's all good.
Detour Mode -- Click your remote whenever you see the video symbols appear on-screen, and you'll be treated to some kind of goofy little side-trip: Pre-show preparations, alternate camera footage, amateur cameraman silliness, etc.
(You can choose to run all three "main film extras" at the same time, with the commentary, the grid angle, and the detour mode all kicking simultaneously. Pretty cool.)
A Day in the Life of Nathanial Hornblower (25:29) -- Put The Beastie Boys in the same pot as David Cross, and you're bound to get something a little loony. Cross plays the fictional Swiss filmmaker, a guy who likes to drink coffee, play chess with dogs, cross-country ski through the streets of New York. Not what you'd call laugh-out-loud hilarious, but an amusing little diversion, provided you dig David Cross.
Never Stop Rapping Yet (8:46) -- A funny and colorful visit with Beastie Boys fans from all over the world, just as they're all about to head into a stadium and rock out.
Show Intros (6:13) -- A bunch of silly pre-concert video intros that were shot for the band's Australian tour.
Enter Jerome Crook's Angry World (4:32) -- An entertaining little visit with the band's no-bullshit tour manager.
Big-Time Hollywood Trailer (2:07) -- It's the trailer, duh. (Actually, it's two.)
There's also a little foldout booklet that covers the DVD navigation.
Beastie Boys fanatics now have two "must-own" DVDs: The kick-ass Criterion set and this Fuckin' Awesome concert flick. Fair warning to the newcomers: This movie is cut in a way that makes Michael Bay look like Michael Haneke. Be prepared.
(Portions of this review were reprinted from festival coverage at eFilmCritic.com, cuz it's ill.)