April 09, 2020
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A preview of KahBang films

“Bob and the Monster,” written and directed by Keirda Bahruth, 85 minutes, playing 9:30 p.m. Friday at the Bangor Opera House.

Keirda Bahruth’s documentary examines the Jekyll and Hyde life of Bob Forrest, the lead vocalist for the promising post-punk band Thelonious Monster. There’s the sober Bob, the one who Bahruth briefly introduces us to in the film’s opening, aged and with a worn face.

Then there’s Bob the addict, the junkie poet-turned-musician whose ego and temper pushes away his bandmates and best friends. He’s in and out of rehab, openly threatens the president at a show in 1992 and cannot remember the words to the national anthem. Most importantly, he squanders a music career that is practically handed to him on a silver platter.

In Bob’s addiction to drugs, we find a microcosm for a generation of out-of-control rock stars strung out on heroin, cocaine and whatever else they could get their hands on. It’s a culture that is both fascinating and deeply disturbing.

Bob is self-destructive, selfish and knocking on death’s door, and you want to cover your eyes as he lets his life spiral out of control. Animated scenes recounting his first and most dangerous experiences with heroin are particularly hard to watch, but equally powerful.

And then, there’s the light at the end of the tunnel. As painful as it is to watch Forrest recount his descent into addiction, his road to recovery is ultimately uplifting. As he comes clean and aspires to help others in a position that he was once in, Bob finds redemption and discovers a purpose that he so desperately needs.

“Bob and the Monster” isn’t an easy movie to watch, but it’s rewarding and a must-watch for fans of that post-punk era. Filled with archive footage, some incredible music (a majority of which is from Forrest and Thelonious Monster) and interviews from fellow musicians such as Courtney Love, Anthony Kiedis and Flea, I couldn’t think of a more appropriate documentary to kick off KahBang’s film festival.

Grade: B+

“TrollHunter,” written and directed by Andre Overdal, 103 minutes, playing at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Bangor Opera House.

Just when you thought you’d seen every type of found-footage movie imaginable, Norwegian filmmaker Andre Overdal takes the subgenre in an unexpected direction with “TrollHunter.”

Three student filmmakers (Glenn Erland Tosterud, Johanna Morck, Thomas Alf Larsen), investigating a rash of suspicious bear deaths, stalk a mysterious poacher (Otto Jesperson) in an effort to get an interview. They get much more than they bargained for.

As the hunter begins to cooperate, the three discover that the bear deaths are in fact part of the Norwegian government’s cover-up of … trolls?

Yes. Trolls. Bear with me.

The trolls from Overdal’s imagination aren’t the same ones that come out of fairy tales. Instead, they’re grotesque, tree-sized predators who only use their sense of smell and love feeding on Christians.

The crew follows the government-hired hunter into prime troll territory, where the three come face-to-face with the fabled creatures, trying to film and stay alive while dodging the Norwegian government’s henpecking the whole way.

“TrollHunter” may sound absurd, like something that would be played up as camp, but it never really does. The movie is surprisingly reserved for a premise that begs to be exploited. Instead, Overdal creates something more evocative of modern Hollywood monster movies (“Cloverfield” or even “Independence Day”) replacing New York’s skyscrapers with the lush Norwegian countryside.

What’s even more unexpected is that the special effects on this import (made for about $3 million) are as good, if not better, than most of what comes out of Hollywood. Overdal creates trolls that are original and organic, avoiding what would otherwise be pure camp.

There are holes, however. Lots of them. But they’re deliberately placed, because under its entertaining skin there is some vague political satire over the extensive power lines running through Norway. Like any good monster movie, “TrollHunter” wants you to be curious and ask questions. But mostly, it just aims to amuse.

Yes, I’ve had my fill of found-footage movies, but for “TrollHunter,” it works. It’s entertaining enough and smart enough to keep from drowning in the sea of faux documentaries.

Grade: B

For the complete KahBang film schedule, visit kahbang.com/film/film-schedule

Joel Crabtree is a digital desk editor. You can read his movie reviews at bdn.to/movies.

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