While it looks like it's still playing the festival circuit, I'm hoping Hit so Hard, a documentary about the career of Hole drummer Patty Schemel, will eventually make its way to our lovely Loft. Not that I really want to find myself sucked into Courtney Love interviews like a freak-show voyeur, but anything that tells the story about a woman drummer and offers more from other women drummers is a documentary worth a dozen stinky quips from Love.
There is a segment in the riveting new documentary Hit So Hard- The Life and Near Death Story of Patty Schemel that explores the concept of "Saturn Returns" (the astrogical phenomenon which is said to influence and test a person's life development beginning at 27 years old; the exact age that rock n' roll icons including Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Brian Jones and —as is intimately recalled in the film by those who were there— Kurt Cobain and Hole bassist Kristin Pfaff died). Friends feared Schemel might end up another victim of the "27 Club" and talk about it in the film. After all, the Hole drummer not only was a full-blown heroin addict at 27, she was forced to deal with the deaths of two of her best friends, removal from her band's anticipated follow-up record, homelessness, and (maybe most challenging) the intimitable Courtney Love.
She survived and even thrived, telling her story (which ends happily, in fact) in the film. The same obviously can't be said for Amy Winehouse, who was also 27. Winehouse's death this weekend reiterated a sad reality of rock n' roll: Rare talents and tortured souls often go hand in hand. It's a recurring thread in many of the films offered for this year's "Don't Knock The Rock," the 7th annual music-themed film festival created and curated by director Allison Anders and daughter Tiffany Anders, at the Silent Movie Theatre.
Director P. David Ebersole told us Hit So Hard, (which sold out last Thursday night and added a second screening) has been picked up for major theatrical release and even if you're not a Nirvana or Hole fan, you must see it. It's easily one of the most touching, honest, funny, refreshing and simply badass films of its kind. (We've seen a whole lotta rock docs, so we don't say this lightly). It chronicles the meteoric rise of Hole before and after Live Through This and Celebrity Skin, via tour footage and interviews (Love, Eric Erlandson and Melissa Auf de Maur all weigh in), Schemel's relationship with Kurt, Courtney and baby daughter Francis Bean (via intimate, pretty amazing home movie footage), the challenges of female drummers everywhere (interviews with Gina Schock, Debbi Peterson, Roddy Bottum), and her rebellious childhood in Washington, growing up as lesbian punk chick (her mom's interviews nearly steal the movie). The story has a dark, even clichéd, arc, but throughout, Schemel's raw and uncensored recollections and enduring humor make even the rough stuff absorbing. Love, looking clownish in a wild multi-colored ensemble and chomping cookies throughout, is highly entertaining, of course.