One of the joys of having a wee bit of time off has been catching up on a few of the movies and documentaries that I’ve not had the opportunity to watch yet. In the last couple of days I also caught up on some Korea fiction when I finished “I Have The Right To Destroy Myself” by Kim Young- Ha. At only 119 pages long it was pretty easy to get through in one sitting. It’s definitely a good place to start for anyone interested in modern Korean literature (translated into English). And yes, it’s a bit barking too.
So, with nothing much on the cards other than walking the dog in the sub-zero temperatures a few times a day, I sat down to watch a couple of music documentaries that I’ve had an eye on for some time. First, was “From The Sky Down’ which is a look at U2’s making of the ‘Achtung Baby’ album and after that was “God Bless Ozzy Osbourne”, a memoir commemorating his forty plus years as an artist and all-round mentalist.
For anyone interested in a live performance film (see Rattle & Hum), then you may not find “From The Sky Down” to your liking. Sure, there are clips from gigs from throughout the bands lengthy career, and a couple of more intimate performances do feature, such as The Edge’s haunting rendition of ‘Love is Blindness’.
Moreover, the film concentrates on where the band went (literally and metaphorically) after the huge popular and critical success of ‘The Joshua Tree’ and the slightly more-all-over-the-place ‘Rattle and Hum’. The film documents the personal relationships, the difficulties in finding the ‘sound’ they wanted, and all sorts of other more personal ups and downs amongst the band members. U2 decided to head to Berlin’s ‘Hansa’ studios to record ‘Achtung Baby’ to see if they could re-generate the ‘magic’ that they’d had previously and the film shows just how fraught with difficulties that process was.
It’s a documentary that really focuses on how the band got to where they were at the time, the huge global success, and some of the insecurities they have as musicians they had when they were playing these huge arenas and stadiums all over the world. It shows how the band work out the process of getting the songs: music, melody, then improvising for the lyrics. And best of all, it’s not all navel-gazing, rock’n’roll cliche bullshit that they could have so easily fall into.
It’s quite light-hearted and fun at times as we see Larry Mullen Jr getting pulled over by the German cops in his Trabant. Or when Bono describes the Edge’s tuning-up process depending on his mood. These were the more human aspects of the band that I think we’d never seen before and I really like the whole mates/band/gang outlook of the film.
It’s worth a watch, even if you’re not a fan, just to have a look inside what makes a band tick and how they created their last great album.