Thursday, April 06, 2006

Licensed to Film: Beastie Boys create the concert film of a lifetime

Awesome: I Fuckin’ Shot That!, a film diary of a sold-out Beastie Boys show at Madison Square Garden, is a concert documentary like no other and it took someone who doesn’t fit into the classic moviemaker box to make it happen. Before The Beasties Boys — Adam “MCA” Yauch, Mike “Mike D” Diamond and Adam “Ad-Rock” Horowitz — played their Oct. 9, 2004 show, Yauch handed out handheld Hi-8 cameras to fifty-one lucky concertgoers. The task for the one-night filmmakers was to film the show of a lifetime. Awesome is a concert film tied to the digital revolution, much how Gimme Shelter and Woodstock were connected to the age of handheld 16mm cameras. The Beasties’ trademark street smarts mix well with new film technology and the result is radical moviemaking.
Veteran cinematographers might consider Awesome’s off-the-street filmmakers as nothing more than amateur photographers told to shoot whatever they want until their video cartridges run out. That’s not how real movies are made. But Awesome dazzles with a kaleidoscope of rocketing images that matches the chest-pounding beat of the Beasties’ music.
Yauch, always working under the alias Nathanial Hörnblowér, has been in charge of the landmark band’s video art and photography for 15 years. The experience has given him an incredible eye and instincts. Yauch edited the hundreds of hours of fan footage into Awesome and every minute matters.
The instant filmmakers responsible for providing footage from all corners of Madison Square Garden prove that a landmark movie can be made anywhere thanks to small and relatively inexpensive cameras. It’s what technology is supposed to do: create a pure cinematic democracy. For The Beasties, who are already musical gods, Awesome qualifies them as New Model Filmmakers, the creators of a different type of concert movie.

Grade: B+

— Steve Ramos

Awesome: I Fuckin’ Shot That! premiered at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival and opened in New York City and Los Angeles on March 31. THINK Films will release it in theaters across America later this spring.

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