Directed by Russ Forster
Other Cinema DVD
Reviewed by Ryan, an audiophile
This film is about 8 tracks and 8 track collectors. For the benighted (presumably anyone under 21) 8 tracks are the white frog mutations of audio formats; they’re cumbersome, ugly, and were guaranteed a short life span. They epitomize the ‘70s like cocaine does the ‘80s. They died a gruesome death. For these very reasons, I’ve always had a soft spot for the underdog 8 track. Nevertheless, I remember seeing Combat Rock by the Clash on 8 track and I didn’t buy it. I’m an audiophile and that speaks volumes of the 8 track’s appeal [I’m shocked to hear this –ed.]. And while the compact disc may be the worst invention since mustard gas, the 8 track is just a hair better. After seeing this film, I’ve come to like 8 tracks more, but that’s only because I’d like to [meet and buy an ice cream for] seventy-percent of the females represented in this film. See, these people are total dorks. Not the ironically cool dorks you see at hipster bars, but the kind of dorks you read about in obituaries, the results of gun shots to the head and hangings. They’re my kind of people: chronic masturbators, loners and depressives; they probably go the library a lot and read Celine. Anyway, the girls in this film are totally hot and like Lou Reed (Jesus Christ, what more can a guy want?). I watched this movie with a semi-chubby, induced by the hot girls who like 8 tracks, the Sparks flowing through me, and the constant references to Lou Reed’s albums - yet another highlight of the film.
The filmmakers try to hammer home the point that these buyers and supporters of 8 tracks don’t follow the capitalistic status quo. Okay, I kind of see that, but it‘s a bit of a stretch. These people are not revolutionaries; they’re just dorky audiophiles with no lives. That’s cool; I am too! In fact, the very reason I’m watching this film is because my friend Mike suggested I review it (he knows what a helpless record collector I am and suggested I review it). So while I’ve never reviewed movies - and in fact do not like them - this movie pertains to me and my people. The impression left on me after viewing this film was not the anti-consumerist one the filmmakers tried to push on me, but just how sad and pathetic being lonely can be. These people are on the periphery of the periphery. And while some of these goof balls are just that, some of them - specifically the girl who yearns to move to New York - probably gravitated to 8 tracks and music out of sheer desperation and depression. A few of the people in the film remind me of Lester Bangs - amiable, erudite eccentrics with no chance of ever fitting in (one guy even has a similar Metal Machine music story as Bangs). Some of the older guys and gals are just semi-luddites who never picked up on the newer formats. Others are just out to make a few dollars off of 8 track revival. However, it was the morose undertones and feelings of alienation - the guy who doesn’t fit in at his job - that, again, stuck with me. Being a fan of esoteric music (Lou Reed, the Stooges and Nico) and music formats (8 tracks and to a lesser degree vinyl) is a special thing. That music is yours not by choice, but out of some emotional connection you can’t put your finger on. Unfortunately, this catch-22 is a double edged sword of deep love and alienation.
This film was made in the late '90s and a lot has changed in music since then (internet music, etc). This movie, although recently released, is dated. You'll have to take that with a grain of salt.
Some of the technical aspects of the film: the film stock used reminded me of late ’70s porn (I had visions of Linda Lovelace sucking dong throughout this film; of course, this didn’t help my chubby at all). The audio synching at the beginning of this film is completely off. It gets better later, but it’s fucking atrocious at the beginning. So not only did the film remind me of late ’70s porn, it also reminded me of imported Japanese kung-fu movies from the same era. That’s cool, ’cause I’m sure the makers of this film had a Ramones first album-like budget. While the film might be lacking in the technical area, the filmmakers love permeates this film. Some of the footage is kitchy and superfluous, but what do you expect from a couple of 8 track lovers; certainly their execution of the film mirrors the subject of it. If you like the Velvet Underground, you’ll probably like this film. It you don’t know who the Velvets are/were (RIP Sterling Morrison), you probably won’t. And while that might not be the fairest measuring stick, you have to have a love for music and its formats to get through this film. It wasn’t made for everyone. –Ryan
DVD Special Features:
-Celebrity Interviews with David Byrne, Tiny Tim, and T-Bone Burnett
-Episodes from 8-Track Mind Videozine
-Behind The Scenes Slide Show
-8-Track History Slide Show