I Am Trying to Break Your Heart

GIVEN THE MUSIC press' exhaustive coverage of Wilco's landmark Yankee Hotel Foxtrot album, it's a bit surprising that Sam Jones' documentary about its recording (on DVD April 1) still makes for such compelling viewing. Like the best films of its kind, Heart benefits from Jones' good fortune—he happened to follow the band members while they were battling both their record company and themselves. But the first-time director also proves his gifts as a seat-of-the-pants auteur, carving both a narrative and aesthetic triumph out of the chaos. Heart is beautifully photographed in black-and-white 16mm— Jones' day job is as a shutterbug for glossies like GQ and Esquire—and shot almost entirely hand-held. Referencing the touchstones of the rock-doc genre, Jones' setups and camera work nod to Godard (Sympathy for the Devil), Pennebaker (Don't Look Back), and the Maysles Brothers (Gimme Shelter).

The handsome two-disc package comes front-loaded with an exhaustive 40-page booklet boasting an opening essay from Rolling Stone's David Fricke plus Jones' directorial notes on his three-year project. Commentaries from Jones and the band are often hilarious—if not always forthcoming. (The group actually gets up and leaves the mic during the now infamous "mixing-board argument" between frontman Jeff Tweedy and ex-guitarist Jay Bennett.)

A full second disc of extras (70 minutes' worth) includes: a making-of featurette, extended concert performances, unreleased songs, and a wealth of behind-the-scenes outtakes. Wilco fans will relish the unaired tracks, but it's the bonus material's myriad left-field touches—several courtesy of musician-turned-SNL-star Fred Armisen—that provide much of the set's value for non-diehards.

Bob Mehr

YOU'VE GOT TO be a diehard fan to appreciate either Paid in Full or Waking Up in Reno, although the latter might've become a guilty pleasure had Billy Bob Thornton or Patrick Swayze contributed commentaries (they don't). Both reach disc April 8, when almost nothing else appears—evidently the post-Oscar doldrums apply to DVD as well as theatrical releases. Two exceptions: Deepa Mehta's Earth (1998), which follows a Parsee family through India's 1947 partition; and the Oscar-winning doc Murder on a Sunday Morning. Then, on April 11, Harry Potter 2 appears with sundry extras.

Eds.

dvd@seattleweekly.com

 
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