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With: Kurt Cobain (voice)
Written by: n/a
Directed by: A.J. Schnack
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 98
Date: 09/10/2006

Kurt Cobain: About a Son (2007)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Drain You

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

In the early 1990s, journalist Michael Azerrad conducted a series of interviews with Kurt Cobain and the members of Nirvana for a book that became Come As You Are: The Story of Nirvana, which was published before Cobain's death in 1994. Azerrad's interview tapes are now used as the basis for this 98-minute documentary. Cobain tells his own story from his days as a lonely youth in Aberdeen, Washington to his days as a famous rock star. Unfortunately, director A.J. Schnack (Gigantic: A Tale of Two Johns) can think of nothing better to do with these tapes than to match them with industrial video-type shots of lumber mills, cafes and highways throughout Aberdeen, Olympia and Seattle. And sometimes weird animation takes over. Occasionally one of Cobain's favorite songs chimes in (including music from The Vaselines, David Bowie, Bad Brains, Creedence Clearwater Revival, R.E.M. and many others), but no Nirvana songs are heard. Moreover, nary a photo or video of Cobain and his band can be seen. (The few real Nirvana photos that do turn up were taken by the great Charles Peterson; he and Azerrad collaborated on another book called Screaming Life). Still, Cobain may or may not have been the most articulate punk rocker ever to walk the earth, but he was a commanding interview. He gave the impression of someone with the final answer, and it's easy to get lost in his words, especially if you're a fan. I ended up enjoying the film overall, even if I had to wonder whether Cobain himself would have approved of a film like this. (Note: the title comes from two early Nirvana songs: "About a Girl" and "Been a Son.")

See also: Nirvana: MTV Unplugged in New York.

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