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Movie Review: 2000 NYUFF: Day 2, Part 5: The Shield Around The K

By Mike Everleth ⋅ March 10, 2000

Frustration, directed by Tom Patterson, was essentially a hyper-kinetic music video. Watching it gave me motion sickness and actually made me nauseous. Cool song, tho’.

Poster for documentary The Shield Around the K

I was gravely disappointed by Heather Rose Dominic’s The Shield Around the K, a documentary about Olympia, Washington’s influential underground record label K Records and its founder Calvin Johnson, also the lead singer for the mythic indie band Beat Happening.

I respected Born to Lose more after watching The Shield. In Born, the director didn’t let the musicians talk very much and let their music speak for them instead. It was a bold and successful move. The Shield is just talk, talk, talk, talk with no clearly defined emotional structure.

There’s the history of K Records, then the idol worship of Calvin. I just got bored. On the plus side, though, there were some good performances by Beat Happening and videos. And I definitely have to check out the band Mecca Normal after seeing the concert footage shown in the film. There’s also an awesome performance of Fugazi, the greatest live band ever. But the film definitely needed more punk rock and shouldn’t have followed such rigid documentary form. Here’s a tip for all you aspiring doc makers: Don’t lock your camera down! That just ain’t cool anymore.

(Buy The Shield Around the K at Amazon!)

Next up was the short Dickhead, another one of those found videotapes of a TV personality acting like a pompous asswipe but not as interesting as others I’ve seen.

Eyes to Heaven by Shane Hawks was a harsh film to sit through. Basically, it’s a black & white silent film that’s a cross between Hellraiser, Natural Born Killers and people vomiting white liquid into each others mouths with a grating Evil Dead soundtrack.

The film starts out real annoyingly because I didn’t know it was going to be a silent film. But once I realized there wasn’t going to be any dialogue (except for some snippets from off-screen characters), I grooved into the flick’s vibe. It was genuinely creepy and vaguely disturbing, but then it just got to be too much. The movie didn’t deserve to be feature-length. An hour tops would have been okay. How much of characters vomiting on each other is an audience supposed to take? Not much, judging by my audience. At least a quarter of them walked out before the movie ended.

I was tempted very slightly to do the same since it was so late and I was practically falling asleep anyway. I gotta go to work tomorrow and get there friggin’ early again. But I ultimately gave Heaven my full attention and it ended up being one of the most grueling movie experiences I can honestly say I have ever had. And in a way, that’s an extremely positive review.

Continue on to 2000 NYUFF: Day 3, Part 1: A Sudden Loss Of Gravity.

Go back to 2000 NYUFF: Day 2, Part 4: The Target Shoots First.