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Heroes of the Zeroes: Metallica: Some Kind of Monster

by on July 14, 2010
 

Heroes of the Zeroes is Nick Rogers’ daily, alphabetical look back at the 365 best films of 2000-2009.

“Metallica: Some Kind of Monster”
Rated R
2004

Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky’s “Metallica: Some Kind of Monster” was a mostly terrific 2004 documentary about a mostly terrible 2003 album.

At least “St. Anger’s” squawk captured the essence of Metallica’s passive-aggressive squabbles during its making — belabored by band therapy and frontman James Hetfield’s alcohol rehab.

Despite some derisory poor-me whining, “Monster” captures uncertain fragility and fear in Metallica’s questioned relevancy, considered disbandment and the closest things to tears they can muster for each other.

Hetfield and drummer Lars Ulrich are Metallica’s chief architects — the former now an intimidating dictator ordering cessation of band activity while he’s away, the latter an irritating imp goading Hetfield with vague criticisms.

Meanwhile, high-voiced guitarist Kirk Hammett preaches peace … until Hetfield and Ulrich threaten his solos. And producer Bob Rock fills in on bass after Jason Newsted departs for the short-lived Echobrain (hilariously referred to by Ulrich as “the future,” with no discernible irony).

A parasite in a Cosby sweater, therapist Phil Towle comes across as the true problem — paid $500,000 to do little more than slap up empty-headed Post-Its reading, “Zone it!” Visibly nervous as Metallica stabilizes, Towle labors to sustain tension and justify his presence, at one point handing Hetfield suggested lyrics to Ulrich’s dismay.

Obviously, Metallica is still around, surviving with the arrival of sparkplug bassist Robert Trujillo. His bouncing energy allowed them to bound onstage in “Monster’s” finale — set to live-show igniter “The Ecstasy of Gold” — with the poignant relief of people who’ve pulled out of a tailspin.