Better Than Something: Jay Reatard (2011) MIFF Film Review


So many of the interviews in this film, both with Jay Reatard and those who knew and worked with him, told stories of destruction and chaos, yet they mostly seemed to be told with love. Jay Reatard was a prolific musician who recorded his first tracks at fifteen in his bedroom and had a life punctuated with violence and drug and alcohol abuse which eventually killed him.

This documentary is probably only of interest to people who love punk/garage grunge music and those who are interested in the nature of self-destruction. Throughout, people are searching for reasons that Jay was the way he was, and it contains a lot of footage with him analysing himself. He seemed so gentle and collected in these interviews, yet onstage he was aggressive musically as well as to the audience and his fellow band mates.

It is a fascinating film with some great footage and some fabulous but very poor quality footage, but through it all is the spirit of spontaneity and anarchy.

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