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With: Charles "Black Francis" Thompson, Kim Deal, David Lovering, Joey Santiago
Written by: n/a
Directed by: Steven Cantor, Matthew Galkin
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 90
Date: 05/02/2006

loudQUIETloud: A Film About the Pixies (2006)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)


By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Since the Pixies broke up in 1993, and since Kurt Cobain paid tribute to them in an interview, the Boston band's popularity has steadily risen. Directed by Steven Cantor and Matthew Galkin, loudQUIETloud: A Film About the Pixies follows the Pixies on their 2004 reunion tour, in which every show sold out in minutes. The new documentary opens today at San Francisco's Roxie.

Forgoing the junky, chintzy look of most video docs, "loudQUIETloud" instead opts for clean, warm tones and crisp sound, giving the concert sequences a vibrant energy. (The title loudQUIETloud refers to the band's song style, which sometimes builds from murmurs to a sudden explosion.) Offstage, the film gets into the personal sides of the performers. The directors' verite, fly-on-the-wall approach steals many potent, revealing moments.

Unlike Metallica: Some Kind of Monster (2004), however, the unique dynamic here is that these band members do not speak to each other much. The flavor of the day is conflict avoidance and awkward silences. Lead singer Black Francis, a.k.a. Frank Black, a.k.a Charles Thompson, now has kids and has apparently sealed his early 90s rift with bassist/vocalist Kim Deal. He sheepishly tells a reporter about some new songs he's written, hoping that maybe the band will bring up recording again. Deal has just checked out of rehab and insists that this tour be completely sober. She also insists on bringing her twin sister, Kelley Deal (a sometime member of The Breeders) for support. Guitarist Joey Santiago also has kids, and is working on the score for a documentary (the forthcoming Radiant City). Drummer David Lovering loses his father during the tour and resorts to popping Valium. During one show, he continues slapping the skins after the song has finished.

Fortunately, this tension combines into a collection of great music, at least for the already initiated. Non-fans will probably see only four overweight, balding forty-somethings playing at being rock stars.

DVD Details: The new DVD from MVD comes with some amusing deleted scenes (Thompson talks about a movie role he almost took, Santiago changes a diaper and Deal has a strange confrontation with a music store clerk) and a commentary track by the filmmakers. There are also a couple of short liner notes essays as well as some great photos.

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