Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Film Capsule: Jem Cohen's Instrument (1999)


Fugazi: Instrument (1999)
Directed by Jem Cohen

After quietly working in experimental media for over 30 years, Cohen garnered universal acclaim for his recent feature Museum Hours. It was his 1999 film on the legendary Washington, DC post-hardcore band Fugazi, however, that brought his dual sensibilities together in a single act of heroic musicological curation. Shot over 10 years and on an array of formats (video, Super 8, 16mm), the film is less documentary than subcultural testament. Bookended by two of the most bracing live performances ever captured—and interspersed with lyrics, portraits of fans, and incredibly rare footage (including shows in the shadow of the White House and in the halls of Lorton Correctional Facility)—Cohen’s film, like its subject, never falls back on tradition or compromise. Fugazi would stop touring and recording just a few years after shooting completed, not because of a breakup or anything so glamorous. They just went unsettlingly silent, confident in the fact that they had gotten the last word. (Mar 4 at Nitehawk) [The L]

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