Awesome; I Fuckin' Shot That

Opens at Neptune and Pacific Place, Fri., March 31. Rated R. 90 minutes.

"Just remember: Take the open shot!" This is the Beastie Boys' warm-up chant minutes before a 2004 show at Madison Square Garden, as they exhort this concert film's director. Or directors—50 of them who previously volunteered to document the show on handheld video cameras of varying formats. They were only given one stipulation: Once the lights go down, hit the red button and never turn it off. No matter what happens.

The you-are-there results are exactly what you would expect: shaky, amateur shots that those nauseated by The Blair Witch Project should probably avoid. And there's the unexpected: Every detail of one guy's trip to the john is documented, intercut with the onstage performance. Unlike your standard arena doc, Awesome vividly captures the unique sensation of real concertgoing: the big, sweaty crazy guy who knows every lyric and isn't hesitant about singing over the band. The nearby couple that takes PDA to a whole new level. The pack of scantily dressed girls who have a different dance routine set to each song. And, at this particular show, Ben Stiller amidst the main floor crowd, belting out every word to "Shake Your Rump."

There's no doubt of the Beastie Boys' ability to put on one hell of a show, which shines through from each individual camera's perspective (rather than a straight-on view of the stage). Granted, some cheesy editing effects were added later—do we really need to re-experience an early-'90s hip-hop video with neon color swirls? Non-fans may not see the point to Awesome. But if you wish you could've been at the Garden that October night, with or without a camera in your hands, the film hits you with a straight punch like a bottle of Brass Monkey.

 
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