Directed by: Ondi Timoner
Starring: Courtney Taylor, Anton newcombe
Even if you haven’t heard of The Brian Jonestown Massacre or The Dandy Warhols, this gritty, soap-operatic documentary about the friendship and fates of both bands is a genuinely compelling piece of modern pop history. The film picks up in 1996 with the two bands on the verge of what appears will be inevitable rock stardom. Both bands feature charismatic, egomaniacal lead singers who craft psychedelic rock songs cut from a pastiche of old and new. But shortly after “Dig!” begins to explore this early competitive creativity, it becomes clear that what we will watch is the rise of a competent musician and capable businessman (The Dandy’s, Taylor), and the fall of an incredibly gifted but troubled musical genius (BJM, Newcombe).
Not surprisingly the anticipated overnight ascent to stardom is not as easy as it may appear. For The Brian Jonestown Massacre their failure to fulfill on this promise seems intentionally booby-trapped, while The Dandy Warhols merely needed time for their talent to catch up to their ambition and the luck to make it happen. Beyond merely a tale about the music business or indie-culture, this is a film about two people, both flawed but one more vulnerable than the other. Ultimately, as with so many truly gifted musicians, drugs help erode the one thing (music) that could have helped Anton Newcombe escape a society that will have had a hard time finding him a place. Usually the best documentaries don’t know where they are going to end up when they begin. In the case of DiG!, this uncertainly has helped create a truly minor masterpiece!