Ondi Timoner’s Dig! is the story of a musical revolution, which may or may not have happened, depending on your perspective. The Brian Jonestown Massacre and The Dandy Worhols were friends before either had any modicum of fame, and they were determined to change the world — or at least the world of music. They took separate paths toward this change, and the onset of two types of fame turned them into rivals of the oddest sort.
I wasn’t really that familiar with The Brian Jonestown Massacre before I saw Dig! Now I feel like I know too much. If there’s a flaw in this film, it’s the fact that it spends more time on the drama of BJM front-man Anton Newcombe and his self-destruction than it does on The Dandys. Anton is portrayed as a musical genius on par with Bob Dylan, a spiritual figure like that of Jesus Christ, and/or a madman like Charles Manson. It’s entertaining and exciting at first, but grows weary and sad by the end. Besides, Joel Gion is easily the star of the show, even though his role in The Brian Jonestown Massacre is questionable (tambourines?). He’s the most entertaining person in the movie and thankfully clocks quite a bit of screen-time. He also — amazingly — manages to stay in the band for the duration.
The Dandy Warhols are cast in the shadow of BJM’s drama. The Dandys only drama is the typical band-versus-major-label woes, and their tolerance of BJM’s “battle” against them. I guess their seeming well-adjustedness makes them less of a spectacle, but their scarcity on screen also makes them that much more of a treat to see.
The DVD release includes an second disc with ton of extra clips, including live footage, videos, and outtakes from both bands. Even if a bit lopsided (Anton Newcombe has publicly renounced the film as “Jerry Springer-esque”), Dig! provides an entertaining, behind-the-scenes look into two bands’ paths to feuds, fame, acclaim, and “revolution.”
Here’s the trailer to Dig! [runtime: 2:10]:
I marshal the middle between Mathers and McLuhan.
Editor of Boogie Down Predictions (Strange Attractor, 2022), author of Escape Philosophy (punctum, 2022) and Dead Precedents (Repeater, 2019).