Reviews - Specialty Releases


Film Review: Hit So Hard

Gripping documentary about the rise, fall and recovery of charismatic Hole drummer Patty Schemel looks at so much more along the bumpy way. A revealing peephole into rock ’n’ roll success and disaster.

April 13, 2012

-By Doris Toumarkine


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1328008-Hit_So_Hard_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

There’s a whole lotta self-destruction goin’ on within the rich trove of material in P. David Ebersole Hit So Hard, which hits hard and very entertainingly as a cinematic backstage pass into bad behavior. Openly gay former Hole drummer Patty Schemel, an addiction survivor today, speaks candidly about her drama-filled past: teen years, when she took on the drums in high-school bands and struggled with her lesbianism in rural Washington state; her later rise to fame in the 1990s as drummer for the Courtney Love Cobain’s multi-platinum-selling band Hole and frequent rock magazine cover girl, and her horrendous crash to a near-fatal life on L.A.’s mean streets.

Schemel’s destiny was unexpected. Her mom Terry laments that in the early ’90s her daughter gave up a job at Microsoft to go to L.A. for the music. Schemel thrived and indulged promiscuously in alcohol and drugs, but lost it later in the decade when a much-maligned producer brought in a pal, a “Johnny One Note,” to take Schemel’s place at a Hole recording session. After other setbacks, she landed penniless and homeless on the L.A. streets, turning tricks to earn money for drugs. In the early 2000s, she emerged from a shelter for women and turned her life around remarkably, a denouement that must be seen.

Beyond Schemel’s compelling story, there’s much more in Hit So Hard. Speaking generously for this doc are Hole leader Love (looking feisty but fueled) and the band’s Melissa Auf der Maur and Eric Erlandson. There’s abundant archival footage of concert dates worldwide, including the famous Lollapalooza world tour, and home movies of band members. On view are the hippie-like Courtney and Kurt with their newborn and scenes of their “highnesses” Love and Schemel goofing off, often with other Hole members, or taunting the cameras. A riff on John Lennon and Yoko Ono in bed has Schemel and fellow redhead Auf der Maur stretched out and holding forth. The doc’s band-at-leisure footage is so plentiful, it’s as if one of them had had a joint or worse in one hand and a camera in the other. Among the saddest players seen in the archival material are Cobain, who committed suicide in 1994, and Hole bass player Kristen Pfaff, who OD’d not long after.

Besides plenty of music, this energetic doc gains visual panache and pulsating rhythms from Ebersole’s use of split-screens, rotoscoped animation of Patty on drums, provocative chapter intertitles (e.g., “Seeing the Demons”) that help explain where the film is taking us, and editing that never lets viewers turn away.

While ultimately a celebration of survival and recovery, the movie is also a tribute to female rock drummers, including The Go-Gos’ Gina Schock and The Beastie Boys’ Kate Schellenbach, among others cited.

With so much to see, hear, learn and feel, Hit So Hard really is a kind of high.


Film Review: Hit So Hard

Gripping documentary about the rise, fall and recovery of charismatic Hole drummer Patty Schemel looks at so much more along the bumpy way. A revealing peephole into rock ’n’ roll success and disaster.

April 13, 2012

-By Doris Toumarkine


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1328008-Hit_So_Hard_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

There’s a whole lotta self-destruction goin’ on within the rich trove of material in P. David Ebersole Hit So Hard, which hits hard and very entertainingly as a cinematic backstage pass into bad behavior. Openly gay former Hole drummer Patty Schemel, an addiction survivor today, speaks candidly about her drama-filled past: teen years, when she took on the drums in high-school bands and struggled with her lesbianism in rural Washington state; her later rise to fame in the 1990s as drummer for the Courtney Love Cobain’s multi-platinum-selling band Hole and frequent rock magazine cover girl, and her horrendous crash to a near-fatal life on L.A.’s mean streets.

Schemel’s destiny was unexpected. Her mom Terry laments that in the early ’90s her daughter gave up a job at Microsoft to go to L.A. for the music. Schemel thrived and indulged promiscuously in alcohol and drugs, but lost it later in the decade when a much-maligned producer brought in a pal, a “Johnny One Note,” to take Schemel’s place at a Hole recording session. After other setbacks, she landed penniless and homeless on the L.A. streets, turning tricks to earn money for drugs. In the early 2000s, she emerged from a shelter for women and turned her life around remarkably, a denouement that must be seen.

Beyond Schemel’s compelling story, there’s much more in Hit So Hard. Speaking generously for this doc are Hole leader Love (looking feisty but fueled) and the band’s Melissa Auf der Maur and Eric Erlandson. There’s abundant archival footage of concert dates worldwide, including the famous Lollapalooza world tour, and home movies of band members. On view are the hippie-like Courtney and Kurt with their newborn and scenes of their “highnesses” Love and Schemel goofing off, often with other Hole members, or taunting the cameras. A riff on John Lennon and Yoko Ono in bed has Schemel and fellow redhead Auf der Maur stretched out and holding forth. The doc’s band-at-leisure footage is so plentiful, it’s as if one of them had had a joint or worse in one hand and a camera in the other. Among the saddest players seen in the archival material are Cobain, who committed suicide in 1994, and Hole bass player Kristen Pfaff, who OD’d not long after.

Besides plenty of music, this energetic doc gains visual panache and pulsating rhythms from Ebersole’s use of split-screens, rotoscoped animation of Patty on drums, provocative chapter intertitles (e.g., “Seeing the Demons”) that help explain where the film is taking us, and editing that never lets viewers turn away.

While ultimately a celebration of survival and recovery, the movie is also a tribute to female rock drummers, including The Go-Gos’ Gina Schock and The Beastie Boys’ Kate Schellenbach, among others cited.

With so much to see, hear, learn and feel, Hit So Hard really is a kind of high.
Post a Comment
Asterisk (*) is a required field.
* Author: 
Rate This Article: (1=Bad, 5=Perfect)

*Comment:
 

More Specialty Releases

Sagrada
Film Review: Sagrada: The Mystery of Creation

The fabulous 130-year work-in-progress that is Barcelona's Sagrada Familia cathedral, as well as its crazy-brilliant originator, Antonio Gaudi, is the focus of this vividly informative documentary. More »

Inside the Mind of Leonardo
Film Review: Inside the Mind of Leonardo in 3D

Documentary-feature hybrid that offers unexpected insight into the world of Leonardo da Vinci, but nonetheless suffers from a heavy hand and pretentious sensibility. More »

If You Don't., I Will
Film Review: If You Don't, I Will

Anemic drama about a forever-bickering couple who do not at all get along nor emit a scintilla of chemistry. It’s a disappointing, too-lean portrait of a marriage. More »

Mr. Turner
Film Review: Mr. Turner

In Mike Leigh’s Mr. Turner, arguably the year’s most gorgeous film, Timothy Spall etches an indelible portrait of the great painter, aided by a marvelous supporting cast who make the period spring alive. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

Annie review
Film Review: Annie

Here’s an updated Annie for today’s entitled, tech-savvy and racially diverse generation of tweens who can easily relate to the new Annie’s love of luxurious toys. Their parents and other adults may miss the sweet innocence of the original, but they won’t be entirely bored by this frenetic new version of her classic story. More »

The H obbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Film Review: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

After rewriting the rules for modern fantasy cinema, for the better and worse, Peter Jackson’s six-film Tolkien saga slams, bangs and shudders to a long-overdue conclusion. More »

Player for the Film Journal International website.


ADVERTISEMENT



INDUSTRY GUIDES

» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.

» Distribution Guide
» Equipment Guide
» Exhibition Guide

ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION

Film Journal International

Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.

» Click Here

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.

» Click Here