red lights


Beastie Boys unleash cameras

"Awesome! I Fuckin' Shot That!"
Movie review
3 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: April 19, 2006

Directed by Nathaniel Hornblower

Featuring: Mike D, Adam Horovitz, Adam Yauch
Mix Master Mike, Money Mark, Doug E. Fresh

Not Rated
90 Minutes
Rated R (for language)

Movie review by David Malsch

The history of the Beastie Boys is an interesting one. Their early beginnings were all about the hardcore punk movement in the early 80's. They soon found out that the d.i.y. connection between punk music and hip-hop were very similar and decided to their change musical genre. In 1986, they released License to Ill and put hip-hop on the mainstream map. They were accused of cultural piracy and were critically lambasted by the music press. They were clowns but they laughed themselves all the way to the bank. Any criticism of them was quickly halted with the release of their second album Paul's Boutique, they were become the most creative hip-hop trio through their clever rhymes and pitch perfect samples. Beastie Boys They went from clowns to groundbreakers and in 1992/1994 released their best albums ever Check Your Head and Ill Communication. Ever changing and becoming elder statesmen, the Beasties released To the 5 Boroughs in 2004, a socially conscience look at their hometown of New York City in a post 9/11 world. These clowns were becoming politically aware and better the older they got.

On October 9, 2004, the Beasties sold out Madison Square Garden and decided to make a concert film. But instead of producing your normal run of the mill concert film they decided to do things a little differently, once again. They handed out 50 hand held Hi8 cameras to 50 different fans attending the show and instructed them to never stop shooting. These 50 amateur directors of photography filmed the whole show from the balconies and in the middle of the mosh pit. There are trips to bathroom, stops at the concession stand and even a nearly ill conceived trip back stage.

At the end of the show, cameras were rounded up and the real work had to begin, editing it all together and making a movie out of it. The editing alone had to be a bitch of a job to do, if you can make that work, you could edit anything. The only thing harder than making sense of all that footage would had to have been Adam Yauch's (AKA Nathaniel Hornblower) job of returning all those cameras to the store for a full refund.

Besides the films gimmick with cameras in the audience, it is a classic form of concert film. The Beastie's run the gamut of their nearly 25 year existence from the music that made them famous "Brass Monkey" and "Fight for your Right to Party" to the genius of Paul's Boutique. Also included are the great instrumentals the Beastie Boys started including in their repertoire with Check Your Head and Ill Communication. They're loud and their sassy and they never sounded better. Mike D, Adam Horovitz and Yauch have perfected their power trio through the years and "Awesome!" proves that. MixMaster Mike keeps everything thumping and grooving as does Money Mark and a special appearance by Doug E. Fresh. It is all a love letter to their dearest and oldest fans. Even George W. Bush gets a shout out with their dedication to him with "Sabotage".

The other concert film still playing in theatres right now is Neil Young's "Heart of Gold." "Awesome! I Fuckin' Shot That" is the complete opposite of "Heart of Gold," not just musically but visually. The film debuted at the Sundance Film Festival and I was lucky enough to be at the theatrical premiere in Scottsdale, AZ. I was a late bloomer to the Beasties, repulsed by License to Ill but suckered in with Paul's Boutique and obsessed following Check Your Head. "Awesome!" is a great companion piece to the 2000 video anthology that was released by the Criterion Collection. It is one of the best video collections by a band ever. It contains 18 videos with the option of alternate video angels and audio tracks from the band themselves to the extraordinary filmmaker Spike Jonze.

The only problems with "Awesome!" is that it feels really long, it could have been made shorter. Adoring fans will eat up every one of the 90-minute runtime, but most people will find themselves fidgeting in their seats towards the middle and end. But it is a fun film and worth seeing, especially on the big screen. The Beastie Boys are never boring and always conjuring up new ways to change the rules, not only in music anymore but also on film.

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