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The Past is a Grotesque Animal

Studio: Oscilloscope
Directed by Jason Miller

Jul 15, 2014 Web Exclusive
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Director Jason Miller’s fantastic new documentary investigating musician Kevin Barnes and his primary creative outlet, Of Montreal, presents a frank, complex portrait of an artist who has been pushing the limits of his medium for almost two decades.

Tons of archival footage and fascinating interviews with family, friends, and former bandmates shed light on the sometimes harsh realities of recording and touring in a band with a singer/songwriter who generates nearly all of its material. At one point, Barnes sheepishly states: “I think that I almost always would choose art over human relationships. Which, you know, might be a terrible thing to say, to admit, but I think it’s true, if I’m being true to myself.” It’s a shockingly self-aware confession that perfectly illustrates the high drama of his work and life. And, in this age of carefully constructed media personalities, it displays a brand of honesty that is exceptionally rare.

The Past is a Grotesque Animal is the product of a successful crowdfunding campaign via Kickstarter. The film, smartly edited by Miller and Andrew Napier, stands as the definitive chronicle of Of Montreal. It’s absolutely essential viewing for fans. And, perhaps most importantly, it underscores the continuing impact of the Elephant 6 family of bands as well as the need for more documentation of that scene.

Author rating: 8/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10


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