IFF Boston: Lemmy

25 April 2010, 7:21 am

Lemmy delivers almost exactly what’d you expect from a documentary about Motörhead’s legendary bassist, vocalist, and all-round heavy metal icon Lemmy Kilmister: there are interviews with a score or so of the many musicians inspired by him, interview footage with Lemmy himself (including a protracted tour of his somewhat scary crib), a bit of background bio (a visit to his former school yields a charming surprise that I won’t reveal) and, of course, plenty of music, from his time with The Rockin’ Vicars and Hawkwind to recent jams with Metallica and Slim Jim Phantom (of The Stray Cats), as well as footage of Motörhead faves like “Overkill,” “Damage Case,” and the almighty “Ace of Spades.”

Lemmy is an easy film to recommend to anyone who loves Motörhead, or any of the many acts Motörhead inspired and influenced — which includes pretty much all thrash/speed metal, and a good proportion of hardcore punk. But Lemmy is kinder to its subject than either Some Kind of Monster, which delved deep into Metallica’s dysfunction, or Anvil! The Story of Anvil, which found both humor and pathos in Anvil’s dogged multi-decade breakthrough-free career, not to mention the inherent ridiculousness of middle-aged men playing music that fundamentally celebrates adolescence. As co-director Wes Orshoski revealed in the Q&A session, the film makers had too much respect for Lemmy to not let him shape his portrayal in the film; Lemmy, for instance, wasn’t keen to have his ongoing drug use in the movie, so references to drugs that aren’t in the past are minimized. The talking head clips have a similar tone: they offer a few humorous anecdotes and a lot of accolades, but nothing challenging. And Lemmy is fully in control of his own interviews: he’s quite happy to show off his knife collection, quite skilled at deflecting anything that threatens to go beneath his surface persona. He remains an enigma, an icon of cool — which is probably exactly how he wants it.

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