Description (from the IMDb):
Provides an insider’s view of the groundbreaking, outrageous, creative juggernaut that was the band Ministry – during their world tour – as front man Al Jourgensen slips into drug addiction. Ministry made industrial rock mainstream, and along the way their music and take no prisoners lifestyle influenced the leaders of today’s most important bands, many of whom are in the film.
Collectable Poster, Extended Interviews (Stalkers, Dope Fiends, Aliens), “Fix This!!” audio CD by Paul Barker
Directed by Doug Freel
I’ve never been a fan of Ministry. Let me clarify: I’ve never really listened to enough Ministry to form an opinion of them, so it’s not that I dislike their music, I just don’t know much of it. Sure, I know “Jesus Built My Hot Rod,” who living through the 90’s doesn’t know that one? But other than that and a few odd singles here and there, that’s about it. I do like a lot of bands that were influenced by Ministry though, so getting a copy of FIX: THE MINISTRY MOVIE to review was intriguing to my musical tastes. I went through my industrial phases. I used to be a big NIN fan, and I have owned some RevCo and some Jesus Lizard and some other associated acts, so I was looking forward to understanding more about this band that was such an influence on them.
F:tMM is very little about Ministry, at least it is very little about the music. The music is there, but really this movie is about Al Jourgensen. More specifically, Al Jourgensen getting high. “Fix” is the perfect title for this film, really the only title that could be correctly associated. Freel must have been in with Ministry pretty tightly, because this film is made up from apparently decades of footage on the road with Jourgensen and Barker and the rotating cast of characters that made up the rest of Ministry at any given time. Jourgensen was also obviously very comfortable with Freel, as he has no problem shooting up on camera (cocaine, heroine, who knows what else) on many occasions while being interviewed. When the footage isn’t of Jourgensen – either in interview, on the bus, or backstage – the camera is instead focused on other musicians who can attest to the voracity of Jourgensen’s drug use, either from personal experience or the word of mouth in the music scene. Jourgensen says that he doesn’t glorify drug use, but if there ever were someone other than Burroughs or Leary (both friends and mentors to Jourgensen) to really be famous for being on drugs, it would be Al.
Don’t get me wrong. Jourgensen is more than just a junky that got famous. He is a very talented musician who could have been ten times more famous than he was if he made music for the mainstream. Instead, as it was pointed out in F:tMM, “the mainstream came to him.” He is also a very intelligent, well read man who has a lot of beautifully insane ideas kicking around in his head. Unfortunately, it appears that the years of drug use eventually worked him out of the intelligence and into paranoia. From doing some research for this review, I see that Jourgensen has been clean for quite a few years now, and I applaud him for that, as it is apparent in the movie that drugs were a very big part of his life.
Other than Jourgensen, there is a very interesting, often funny, cast of backing characters in F:tMM. Lemmy is always funny, in his dry, old man kind of way, and I loved some of his insights. Maynard James Keenan, one of my favorite musicians, is equally funny and quite intelligent in his discussions of the Ministry mythos. David Yow, lead singer of The Jesus Lizard, had one of the funniest (hopefully) fake stories about Al, and since watching his interview I am trying to figure out a way to work “dick suckery” into my vocabulary (watch it and you’ll get it, funny shit for sure). There were a host of other musicians interviewed, and many had interesting insights, but none stood out as much as Lemmy, Maynard, or Yow. Reznor was neither here nor there; he had some interesting things to say and was not completely boring doing so, but never really entertained. Nivek Ogre, whom I mostly am aware of because of REPO, is another that comes off quite intelligent and not at all like anyone would likely expect from his stage persona. Jonathan Davis comes off quite whiny; I know he’s had a lot of crap to deal with in his life, but he seems like such a complainer in his interviews. Most of the other interviewees were pretty forgettable, there were moments here and there but the best stuff came from Lemmy, Maynard, and especially Yow.
There is good reason that F:tMM is unrated. This movie would probably be hard pressed to get even an NC-17 if it were submitted for rating. There is a lot, no, a ton of swearing, the aforementioned drug use (plus the drug use of others beyond just Jourgensen) and drinking and smoking (which the MPAA frowns upon as well), plus there’s a lot of nudity. Some of it is boobs being flashed from the audience, but the majority of the nudity in the movie is penis, mostly David Yow’s. This is defiantly not a movie for the kiddos, old folks, or anyone with mild sensibilities, but truthfully why would any of those people want to watch a movie about Ministry?
On the production side of things, it was some good and some bad. It is obvious the footage has been complied from years, so the older stuff would be in full-screen format. Freese chose to shoot the new interviews and newer footage also in full-screen, which I understand but didn’t really enjoy. I don’t have a problem with multiple aspect ratios in a film, and would have preferred the newer stuff to be 16:9, but that’s just me. The image quality varied, but this is too to be expected as the years of footage means that there are different cameras and different types of video being recorded. The audio was over all very good; there were moments here and there where it wasn’t as good, but the majority of the film was easy enough to hear and understand (and when it wasn’t and they knew it, it was subtitled which was nice). There was some nice music for the soundtrack, mostly as expected it was Ministry, but there were a few other submissions as well, and I especially enjoyed Puscifer’s “Cuntry Boner.”
Overall, I felt F:tMM was a mixed bag. There was some stuff I really liked, and some stuff that I felt like I learned a lot that I didn’t know before, but when it came down to it way too much of the movie was just Al getting high. I know it’s called “Fix,” but this movie is not nearly as much about Ministry as it is about Jourgensen’s relationship with chemicals. Maybe if it was just called “Fix” or “Fix: The Al Jourgensen Movie” I would have gotten more into it, but I was expecting a movie really about Ministry, a band that has influenced so many bands that I have enjoyed over the years. I did not get what I was expecting, and that was a bit of a let down. An interesting movie, and a hell of a ride, but not at all what I was hoping it to be.
Overall 6.5 / 10
F:tMM on the IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1646898/
F:tMM for sale: http://amzn.com/B0076OIA8M
F:tMM site: http://www.fixtheministrymovie.com/