DVD Review - LoudQuietLoud: a film about the Pixies
No Spoilers! Hooray!
Being a fan of the band and having attended the tour that this film documents might have biased me to this film but it did not focus on the music, it was about the band’s chemistry on stage and their apparent lack of chemistry off stage.
When this film was screened at the South by SouthWest (SXSW) film festival, they sold out immediately. Even though the band had abruptly dissolved in 1992, the fans were still clamoring for more and this film delivers a great snapshot of the people, the places and the relationships in the band.
The directors of the film, Steven Cantor and Matthew Galkin, have created a film that is not only appealing to the Pixies uber-fan but also for a general audience. The pacing is quick, the cuts are clean and there isn’t much fat on this film (It clocks in at 85 minutes or 90 minutes if you watch the video that plays along the credits). During the audio commentary, the directors say they wanted the film to be cinema verité, which means candid camera with shaky angles, and they succeed in giving us some quality moments with the band. They also had Kim’s twin sister, Kelley, as a backup camera operator so she did some of the behind the scenes camera work.
The documentary follows the band as they go on their “Pixies Sellout” tour in 2004 (it was named this way because they sold out at practically every date but we all know what it really means). Before the film dives into the tour, the directors catch the viewers up with the lives of the band members: Charles “Black Francis” Thompson has been writing albums ever since the Pixies broke up, Kim Deal formed the Breeders with her sister, got addicted to drugs and spent some time in rehab, Joey Santiago went on to composing scores for films and television shows and David Lovering became a magician.
Being years removed from playing their old songs, when they first meet up to rehearse Kim had forgotten how to play her parts and Charles had forgotten some lyrics. The viewer sees how human the band members actually are. They note that being in the band was their job, they were regular people just doing their job, and they were giddy to see all the fans being so receptive to their music.
The film-makers stress that the film is formatted like one of the Pixies’ songs: The anticipation and the anxiety of the first shows is loud, the re-visiting of past tensions is quiet and the fabulous success of the tour is loud. Through triumph and tragedy, the Pixies roll through their tour and the viewer gets a rare backstage pass.
The only complaint about the film is at the end of the director’s commentary when they went on to say that this would probably become the definitive Pixies documentary because the band would probably never tour again. I thought that was a little presumptuous seeing as how the film didn’t deal with the music.
If you’re looking for an interview heavy documentary about the pixies check out “Pixies” (released 2004) but if you want a portrait of the people behind the music that would go on to influence bands like Nirvana and Radiohead get a hold of a copy of LoudQuietLoud.