Ondi Timoner was a fly on the wall while the Dandy Warhols marched steadily to fame, and the BJM lurched from drug-bust to onstage brawl - and that was on their good days. It may be a cliché to compare every rockumentary to This Is Spinal Tap, but I suspect that Timoner had that film in mind all along.
There's certainly a wicked comic timing to the revelations that Newcombe's ex-girlfriend is now living in Tahiti with another rock singer, and that one of the BJM's first albums was called Thank God For Mental Illness. And Christopher Guest couldn't top the scene of Newcombe sulking outside a nightclub where the BJM have had yet another punch-up. "Fucker broke my sitar," he mutters.
Dig! is an outrageous, high-speed saga of pragmatism versus nonconformity, although it leaves a sour taste in the mouth when it admits how damaged Newcombe is, and we realise that we've been laughing not just at a egotistical brat but at a heroin-addicted schizophrenic. Still, that sour taste is diluted by the thought that, with the release of Dig!, the BJM should sell some records at last.
Imaginary Heroes peeks at the death, depression, deceit, dysfunction and drug-taking that fester in the homes of white suburban America, behind porches the size and shape of Greek temples. It begins by introducing us to a high-school swimming champion - the third of these I've seen in the cinema in the last month. Loathing the pressure and the attention, he kills himself, leaving his family to deal with the suicide in different ways. His father, Jeff Daniels, medicates himself with pills and bourbon. His mother, Sigourney Weaver, smokes dope and flirts with the supermarket check-out boy. His sister, Michelle Williams, stays away at college as much as she can. And his brother, Emile Hirsch, doesn't seem to care.
The presence of Weaver might remind you how much Imaginary Heroes owes The Ice Storm, and, similarly, Daniels' presence recalls Terms Of Endearment. Beyond that, anyone who's seen American Beauty and the television shows which followed it, Six Feet Under and Desperate Housewives, will feel that they've seen quite a few of Imaginary Heroes' crises and quirks before.
Eyal (Lior Ashkenazi) is a Mossad assassin who kills with so little compunction that even his wife's suicide doesn't give him pause. Just a few weeks later, he's assigned to pose as a tour guide for a young man visiting Israel from Berlin. The German may be staying with his sister in a kibbutz, but their grandfather was a Nazi, and Eyal has to ascertain whether he's still alive. This Israeli political thriller, from the maker of Yossi and Jagger, makes such well-meaning points about tolerance and forgiveness that you can excuse some of the clumsiness with which it makes them.
Not a film for anyone who's already afraid of hospitals, needles and/or operations, Who Killed Bambi? is a Hitchcockian thriller about a student nurse who suspects that one of the surgeons, a glowering Rupert Everett-lookalike, is up to no good. She's right, too. Early on, we see the surgeon haunting the deserted corridors by night, and drugging and molesting his patients. Having divulged the villain's identity and his modus operandi so prematurely, Gilles Marchand succeeds in keeping up the tension for a long while afterwards without recourse to a single plot twist. Two hours is pushing it, though.
The United States Of Leland peeks at the death, depression, deceit, dysfunction and drug-taking that fester in the homes of white suburban America, behind porches the size and shape of - yes, all right, that's what I said about Imaginary Heroes, but this is a very similar type of film. However, it's even less bearable than Imaginary Heroes. It opens, not with a suicide, but with a murder. Ryan Gosling, the son of a famous author (Kevin Spacey), stabs his ex-girlfriend's disabled brother, and is sent to a juvenile detention centre. His teacher there, Don Cheadle, interviews him to find out why such a meek soul should have done something so brutal.
Eventually, we get a waffly answer to the question, but it's not worth enduring all the other waffly stuff in the film to get to it. NB
It's unfortunate for Clean that it's released in the same week as Dig!, but at any time its portrayal of an indie-rock milieu would be wincingly wide of the mark - such clunking declarations as, "I know we're not Limp Bizkit, but I'd like to do a soundcheck" expose a writer-director trying too hard to be down with the kids. It even features another Spinal Tap archetype: Maggie Cheung stars as the poisonous, control-freak girlfriend of a washed-up British rock star. When he dies of a heroin overdose, his grandparents get custody of the couple's son, and Cheung slopes back home to Paris, where she must kick her bad habits and get a job if she wants to see him again.
The film is structured around a haughty bitch-queen learning humility, but any change in Cheung's character is hidden behind a wall of petulant pride that barely cracks.