November 25, 2022

This evaluate was initially a part of our protection of the 2022 Sundance Movie Competition.

The Pitch: Pitched between the doomsday-prepping of Y2K and the existential horror of 9/11, 2000s New York was additionally house to a different seismic change in American tradition: the burgeoning indie-rock scene, the place dingy golf equipment on the Decrease East Aspect performed house to acts like Interpol, The Strokes, The Moldy Peaches, and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

That’s the hazy, deafening, beer-sticky stage on which Dylan Southern and Will Lovelace (who beforehand directed the LCD Soundsystem doc Shut Up and Play the Hits) function for Meet Me within the Toilet, much less an adaptation of Lizzy Goodman’s 2017 oral historical past of the identical title than a dwelling companion piece.

Comprised virtually solely of archival footage stitched collectively by new and archival voiceover interviews from lots of the events concerned, together with Karen O, James Murphy, Paul Banks, and extra, Meet Me within the Toilet provides you a backstage go to this lightning-in-a-bottle second in music historical past.

Is This It: The aughts gave beginning to a brand new sort of rock star, normally borne of the idle wealthy youngsters and blue-collar post-punks of late ’90s Manhattan: creatively formidable however socially shy, bristling in opposition to the highlight that fame gave them at the same time as their stars rose to heavenly heights.

It’s right here that Southern and Lovelace flip the vast majority of their eye, Meet Me within the Toilet mainly involved with the bands that rose to fame from the darkish, remoted incubator that was NYC’s Decrease East Aspect. The Moldy Peaches cheekily plink out songs of their studio condo; Karen O develops her onstage persona into the wailing pop-punk diva she’d turn out to be; The Strokes face a meteoric rise that instantly vegetation the ‘way forward for music’ label on them, with all of the stress that entails.

(A lot actual property is devoted to footage of Julian Casablancas, The Strokes’ boy-genius frontman, shrugging and withdrawing from the load of their stardom: he clams up and shrugs in interviews, his signature aloofness studying extra as resignation.)

Their tales are largely disconnected, which is a bit formally irritating; Southern and Lovelace wander from one band to a different and again once more like a drunken extrovert at a home celebration, making it onerous to essentially glom onto one specific band’s journey. Nevertheless, in specializing in how all of those bands respectively progressed via essentially the most fertile years of their musical careers (1999-2004), we see not simply how they modified popular culture, however how the world modified round them.

Often, the filmmakers flip away from the bands to remind us that sure, we had been all freaked out about Y2K and stocking MREs in look forward to the approaching apocalypse; or that the horrors of 9/11 turned their devil-may-care punk shrugs right into a name for humanity. Most haunting is the arrival of Napster and the mp3 craze, a phenomenon that principally rattles Murphy, a person who’s spent three many years as a sound engineer (together with a contentious however creatively fruitful collab with David Holmes) solely to see the top of music as he knew it past the horizon; he’d channel that over-it malaise into the disco-synth beats of LCD Soundsystem.

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