Monday, February 24, 2020

Bones of Brundage-Nathaniel Berg, Director; 2018

Bakersfield, California does not have much in terms of glamor. Disaster Amnesiac would venture to guess that for most people in California, it's a place to maybe pull over for gas or eating, before or after the Grapevine on the way to Los Angeles or San Francisco. That being said, the city does have a very rich musical culture, bulwarked by a rich mixture of hard working people. It's from this mix that arose a very vibrant post Punk Rock scene that is incredibly well documented in Nathaniel Berg's Bones of Brundage.
Berg does a great, very deep dive into this scene in from the 1980's to roughly the present, with interviews of myriad participants. Their stories show a music scene that bursts with energy and creativity, and as Disaster Amnesiac watched Bones, I could not help but feel inspired by all of them. It's a classic d.i.y. tale. Young people want to create things for themselves. They find places, in these kids' case, an old dance hall, a gay bar, a pizza parlor, and a boxing gym, in which to realize their visions. They see these visions come to life in unexpected and magical ways, all the while pushing through indifference and even outright hostility from the outside.
Berg is smart in the way that he lets his subjects speak for themselves about these matters, and it's fascinating to learn about this, mostly hidden, musical history of a city that seems somewhat easy to pass by without too many second thoughts. Particularly compelling are characters such as Big Jed, who could easily have his own dedicated documentary film, the almost lost to history Burning Image, and Korn's Jonathan Davis, who eloquently breaks down his reasons for forsaking Los Angeles for the weirdness of Bakersfield suburb Oildale.
Along with the great documentary video and photographic footage of the years it documents, Bones of Brundage succeeds with a really fine soundtrack and compelling mis en scene of Bakersfield and its surroundings. Disaster Amnesiac absolutely loved this film, and thinks that you would, too. It's really quite inspiring.

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