Brett Morgen: Kurt Cobain: Montage Of Heck

Here we are now, underwhelm us.

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The first fully authorised bio-documentary on Kurt Cobain is a fascinating mess, dense with detail but lacking coherence. Morgen also directed the Stones docu Crossfire Hurricane, and he attempts a similar kind of intimate, freewheeling, stream-of-consciousness approach here.

He interviews Courtney Love, Krist Novoselic and Kurt’s parents, but Dave Grohl is notably absent. The film’s chief selling point is access to Kurt’s private diaries, teenage notebooks and home movies, including footage of him as a cherubic toddler and lots of druggy scenes with Courtney.

Morgen pores over lots of doodles and even creates animated vignettes around Kurt’s old audio recordings, but he fails to elevate juvenile scribbles into significant historical relics. He also seems oddly weak on musical context, largely ignoring the punk and hardcore hinterland that shaped Nirvana.

Straining to pinpoint psychological explanations for Kurt’s rise and fall, Montage feels like an incomplete story, chiefly because its subject lived a tragically incomplete life./o:p

Stephen Dalton has been writing about all things rock for more than 30 years, starting in the late Eighties at the New Musical Express (RIP) when it was still an annoyingly pompous analogue weekly paper printed on dead trees and sold in actual physical shops. For the last decade or so he has been a regular contributor to Classic Rock magazine. He has also written about music and film for Uncut, Vox, Prog, The Quietus, Electronic Sound, Rolling Stone, The Times, The London Evening Standard, Wallpaper, The Film Verdict, Sight and Sound, The Hollywood Reporter and others, including some even more disreputable publications.