SXSW FILM 2010
By JP Chapman | April 2, 2010
Directors: Greg Olliver & Wes Orshoski
Featuring: Lemmy Kilmister, Motörhead, Ozzy Osbourne, Dave Grohl, Slash, Duff McKagan, Metallica, Stray Cats, Mick Jones, Alice Cooper, Steve Vai, Billy Bob Thornton, Triple H, The Damned, Henry Rollins, Nikki Sixx
One of the top 3 films of my SxSw experience (the others being Kick-Ass and Cyrus), Lemmy may even stand out as my favorite film of the festival. Any film that features Motörhead’s Lemmy in full WWII regalia driving and firing off the gun of a tank is a sure-fire bet to be worth watching; and as rock documentaries go, Lemmy is one that can not be missed.
Following the long, and meandering career of Lemmy Kilmister, Lemmy takes the viewer on an awesomely detailed and interesting private tour of the rock star’s current eccentric life, both at home in his Los Angeles apartment (or his second home, the Rainbow) and on the road with Motörhead. Lemmy also has the truly unique distinction of being made by first time directors (Wes Orshoski and Greg Olliver) and superfans of the band they’re featuring, while simultaneously being extremely well put together and entertaining to watch.
Growing up in England from the birth of rock and roll on, Lemmy seems to have been present at nearly every important stage in the genre’s development. From catching the Beatles play the Cavern Club, to working as a roadie for Jimi Hendrix, to practically inventing speed metal/thrash, Lemmy is a true Rock God. Fueled by amphetamines and jack & cokes, Lemmy tours endlessly, collects nazi artifacts from WWII, and has supposedly bedded somewhere north of 1,200 women. Needless to say, he is the archetype for what modern Americans see as a rock star, and as the film Lemmy shows via testimonials from countless rock stars, he is what many of them have always aspired to be. Oddly, and unfortunately though, fame and fortune (at least at the level of many of his admirers) has always seemed to be just out of the reach of Lemmy. In spite of what many could potentially view as being shortchanged, Lemmy holds an enormous amount of respect from his peers in the musical community and is universally known as one of the nicest guys in rock and roll. In addition to this Lemmy serves to show the viewer what a true fan of rock Lemmy is. From buying the new Beatles box set (mono of course) on release day at Amoeba Records in LA, to playing in a 50’s cover band, Lemmy truly loves what makes up a classic pop rock tune, and is both a student and master of its art.
Seen in close succession with Don Letts’s Strummerville, Lemmy managed to pull the bitter taste out of my mouth left by Strummerville, and did everything a rock doc should. From the private tour of Lemmy’s LA apartment, offering a bizarrely awesome peek at his vast knife collection, to the mounds of garbage and toys in his home, the film delivers scene after scene of what you would hope a guy like Lemmy is like. Yes, he is a wild rock star with addiction issues and loads of other problems….but he is also seemingly one of the coolest working musicians you can run into. From being willing to talk with fans daily at the Rainbow, to simply going on the road constantly, Lemmy truly lives for his fans and band. I can’t wait to see what Orshoski and Olliver come up with next—hopefully they will team again, as it seems as though they have a truly unique and hard to capture chemistry (especially seeing as this is their first film).
The screening of Lemmy at SXSW culminated in Lemmy coming onstage with the directors for Q&A, and in an awesome scene managed to cement both his bad-assery and niceness at the same time by looking cool/giving the audience a hard time, but also by endlessly cracking jokes and pulling up his fellow Motörhead band mates to the stage and paying tribute to them. Lemmy is a truly special film, and is not only one of the best documentaries I’ve seen in a long time, but is also one of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time.