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Nick Broomfield doesn’t know what to believe about Kurt Cobain in Kurt & Courtney

Kurt & Courtney is a documentary by Nick Broomfield about the controversy surrounding the apparent suicide of Kurt Cobain.

Not yet knowing he himself will become part of the story, Broomfield holds his cards pretty close to his chest throughout. It’s not until fairly late in the film that he begins to describe his own feelings. His interviewees cover an entire spectrum of responses to the death: all the way from unambiguous suicide to unambiguous murder. Some on each side are credible, some are… to say the least, not. The only thing that seems clear is that Love is a monster, and the question becomes not “did Cobain commit suicide or was he murdered?” but rather “did Love drive him to suicide or have him murdered?”

A thick soup of inconclusive opinions, recollections and possibly lies leave Broomfield not knowing what to believe (as he reveals in a despairing voiceover). He finally comes across a journalist willing to go on the record with several recorded death threats given by Love and, dishearteningly given that he was apparently a gifted, sweet, and loving person, Cobain himself! At last, some concrete evidence. Even then, Broomfield doesn’t quite reveal his feelings. So it comes as quite a surprise when he makes a guerilla attack upon Love at an ACLU event. Of course it’s an atrocity that she’s even there, given her documented behavior towards journalists (with whom of course Broomfield personally identifies), but his sudden and very public attack is powerful and shocking. Even his cameraperson couldn’t hold the camera still.

Here’s the confessional part: I never really liked Nirvana. An interesting point about the film: unless I missed something, the word “grunge” is never spoken. Instead many individuals confidently describe Nirvana as simply “punk.” And you saw this coming: I never really liked punk. I think I have an intellectual understanding of it: the significance of its arrival and the wide-reaching spread of its influence. All true, but I don’t chose to listen to it.

So I came to the film without a full knowledge of the music and the band’s history, and without the preconceived notions of Cobain and Love fans are likely to have. So for me, the film is not really about any of those things; its larger theme really has to do with how one can lose the big picture (to use a cliche without being able to think of a better term at the moment) the closer you look, and the finer your focus. And not to mention the disturbance your gaze can cause if you press it in too close.

2 replies on “Nick Broomfield doesn’t know what to believe about Kurt Cobain in Kurt & Courtney”

Ding ding! Holley, you get the double honor of being the first to link to my nascent blog AND the first to post. Until now, the pressure of having readers (let alone readers that actually know me well) was purely hypothetical! Now the blog has REALLY begun, hasn’t it? Time to get serious. Speaking of, I need to investigate how to change the design of this thing, seeing as how I’m a designer and all…

To be honest, I don’t recall pretending that I really grokked Nirvana. Well, except for the brilliant Spike Jonze “In Bloom” video and the song “All Apologies” (great riff). As for what we talked about, at least in terms of music: there was the “Jeremy” video, anything on MTV 120 Minutes, “what’s up with ‘alternative’, that’s not a genre!” and the irony of Alanis’ “Ironic” being anything but. You know, mid ’90s college kid stuff.

OK, I’m off to a movie that I surely hope will live up to its advertising: absurdly stupid and stupidly absurd: The Transporter 2. Follow it up with a pint or three, and you’ve got an evening. If I’m not too stout-blasted when I get back, I’ll write a paragraph or two about it and keep this blog thing rolling.

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