There are few better ways to spend your Saturday night than watching an intimate portrait of garage rock icon Jay Reatard.
As if this week's cover story wasn't enough, the Indy will be posting reviews, previews and interviews throughout the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival. Here's a look at Better Than Something, a feature-length film directed by Alex Hammond and Ian Markiewicz, screening tonight at 9 p.m. at the Crystal.
You should listen to Jay Reatard. That is the resounding message of Better Than Something, the relentlessly compelling portrait of Jimmy Lee Lindsey, Jr., a musician prolific in both creation and destruction. The Memphis punk rock savant made dozens of records before he died at 29, and his work seemed inseparable from his habit of wrecking stuff. Often the connection was literal, as footage of early live performances indicates. Sometimes it was psychological, as the rest of the film suggests but does not seriously confront.
In their tributes to his artistry, the interview subjects in Better Than Something allude to a series of bad breakups, dissolved bands and alienated bookers. One of the better show videos ends with Lindsey running across the stage and kicking his bass player in the genitals. Lindsey himself admits that he cannot address a bad situation without destroying it entirely, and yet the film glances at this aspect of his life without looking it in the eye. It is a hint of gauze in what is otherwise a bracingly vivid document of a young talent who enjoyed the virtues of his faults. Everything Lindsey did seemed a little more real—his biopic just less so.
- Review by Dan Brooks