Chris Knipp Writing: Movies, Politics, Art

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 21, 2016 8:57 am 
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The boys in the band

They've gone straight from middle school to hard rock fame. Metallica has had this middle school band open for them, and we can see why. They are hiding prepubescent voices, their song lyrics suck, but they wield their instruments with stunning conviction. Two of them met at the age of four at a birthday party and talked of playing music together. Basement playing led to Times Square led to a YouTube video that went viral, and as sixth graders they got a record contract with Sony. They are three reedy boys in their early teens from Brooklyn with a lot of focus. They are black. They're a punk metal band called Unlocking the Truth. This is the novel Making of a Band movie that fell into the hands of filmmaker Luke Meyer.

Their names are Malcolm Brickhouse (electric guitar, vocals), Jarad Dawkins (drums), and Alec Atkins (bass). The other personality highlighted is Alan Sacks, seventy-something producer responsible for "Welcome Back, Kotter," John Travolta's springboard to fame, the 1986 skateboarding drama Thrashin, a string of films for the Disney Channel, and promotion of the Jonas Brothers, among other projects. Sacks heard about Unlocking the Truth and wanted to be part of them. He went from L.A. to Brooklyn and he became their manager. Other figures come and go, notably Brickhouse’s, parents, Noreen and Tracey, the band's chaperones on the road, but Sacks is the real star of the show.

Obviously the boys attract attention with their novelty. Apart from the extreme youth of these musicians, speed metal is a virtually all-white musical genre. The allusion to Bruce Sinofsky and Joe Berlinger’s lengthy Metallica doc Some Kind of Monster is clear, but there are no expletive-intense internecine battles here. Most of the conflict comes from the boys' boredom with business meetings they're forced to attend and Sacks' concern that their penchant for skateboarding and other play natural to teenage boys could cause a concert or recording date to be cancelled. But though they play prominently at the prestigious debut spot, Coachella, and other venues, and make a single, the album they want keeps getting postponed, making them want to get out of the Sony contract.

Though there's nothing definite or finished here, Luke Meyer's accomplishment is catching lightening in a bottle, focusing seamlessly on an evanescent process (still far from complete, if it ever will be) with full confidence and access. Bottom line, this is a music doc, and a good one. Unlocking the Truth is a real heavy metal band, and as the final credits segment shows, they can be a very exciting and enjoyable one. Metallica has had them open for them, and we can see why.

Breaking a Monster, 93 mins., debued at SXSW Mar. 2015, also a concert op for the group, and showed at nerly a dozen other festivals, domestic and international. It had a brief theatrical release June 24, 2016 in NYC, and came out in L.A. 1 July 2016. The Landmark Bay Area release comes 22 July 2016.

Breaking a Monster is released by iTunes 27 September 2016. ​


​Video of new song, "Take Control.".​​

©Chris Knipp. Blog:

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