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New York Doll (2005), Greg Whiteley, F

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal,No News Is Good News | Monday, June 25th, 2007


I may be being overly harsh, but this film, nearly frame-for-frame, is the perfect arguement against our culture’s obsessive proliferation with digital video documentaries about every artist who ever lived. One could argue that the New York Dolls could be the subject of a doc. Maybe. But a doc just on the bass player? The bass player??! Arthur “Killer” Kane used to be in the New York Dolls. Even back then he was mocked for being “a statue” on stage. Then he converted to Mormonism. “Oooooooh!” That’s the whole movie. Shots of him then with long hair, now with a white shirt. That’s it. That’s the whole fucking thing. Arthur Kane is, by the way, the most boring man on the planet. He has nothing to say. He is the least compelling interview subject in history. He looks wooden and mumbles and is probably thinking “why am I being interviewed?” Good stinkin’ question.

There’s a reunion concert. David Johansson lights up the room for 30 seconds. Then Kane drops dead. The movie ends on a sad note so people think they’ve seen something good. I hate to sound crass, but the filmmaker just lucked into that. If Kane didn’t die so unexpectedly, he’d have no film.

1 Comment »

  1. I didn’t think it was that bad. The whole selling point is the dichotomy between this guy who lived the “outrageous” rock-and-roll lifestyle via the New York Dolls, who eventually burned himself out, gave up music, became a Mormon who worked in a library. And this is a pretty strange story!

    I think where they could use some help is in demonstrating exactly what he was doing in the Dolls, which seems to be taken care of simply by pictures flashing as an old Dolls song played. Those guys were pretty shocking and strange in their time. That whole era got short shrift in the documentary. You get no sense of what the band meant — to him or society in general. Their story — a bunch of outer-borough New York kids playing 50s-style rock in drag — has got to be pretty interesting. The documentary works on the assumption that if you’re watching it, you already know the story — but I really don’t, and I say that having bought their albums back in the early 80s.

    Comment by Bill R — June 27, 2007 @ 6:22 am

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