to eleven

What I’ve been watching: The Life of the World to Come by jason
April 18, 2010, 3:51 pm
Filed under: Movies | Tags: , ,

So, yesterday was Record Store Day, a holiday that is as important to me as it is a pain in the ass. I was going to skip it all together, except that there was a screening of The Mountain Goats performance film, The Life of the World to Come, and that movie was being released as a Record Store Day exclusive. So, I drove an hour from Ghettotown to Cleveland, and I’m glad I did.

While The Life of the World to Come is my least favorite Mountain Goats album, it was really cool to see this pared-down line-up of John Darnielle with occasional help from Rachael Ware. It made all of these songs, even the ones that. on the album, were heavily produced, intimate.

The performances themselves are great, too. John sounds great here, even the few times that he plays the wrong chord. And, as the whole movie is shot in one continuous take, any mistakes are left in (including one of the lighting guys knocking over a stand at the beginning of one song). Of course, if you are a fan of the mountain Goats, you know that Darnielle loves that kind of thing (Listen closely to Tallahassee and We Shall All Be Healed for lots of weird in-studio sounds).

Director Rian Johnson (Brick, The Brothers Bloom) often turns the camera on Darnielle’s hands, focusing on the performance of each song. Other times, he circles Darnielle until John seems to forget the camera is even there. In these moments, he’s not playing to the hypothetical audience…he’s just playing.

This was great to see on a big screen with a small audience. In fact, the only complaint I have about the screening is that it was difficult to not applaud after each song. It really felt like a very small, intimate show.

When I got home, I opened up my copy of the DVD, which comes in a book in which John explains the songs. There are two things that Darnielle has always said he hates: Appearing on film and explaining his songs. So this package is really a special thing to Mountain Goats fans, or at least it should be. The DVD also has a Q and A session with Darnielle and Rian Johnson, where JD explains some of his writing process and other things you usually don’t get to hear him talk about.

All in all, this is a great movie, in a great little package. Unfortunately, it was a limited edition of only 1500 copies, so if you don’t have a copy, good luck finding one.



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