I Am Trying To Break Your Heart (2002)
We watched I Am Trying To Break Your Heart last night because our free cable was recently shut off! But that's okay because TV is just such a time-suck. It all worked out because I've been meaning to re-watch the film and then writing something about it on here!
In case you don't already know, IATTBYH is a documentary by Sam Jones about the amazing rock band Wilco. I can singlehandedly attribute this film for getting me into the band. I watched it in a class about music and film a number of years ago, without really knowing anything about Wilco, and honestly, this film was kind of a musical epiphany. And today, I love the band, and am seriously enjoying their latest album, imaginatively titled Wilco: The Album.
It's a great documentary, that I feel will take its seat in history alongside other great musical documentaries like Don't Look Back (Bob Dylan) and Lonely Boy (Paul Anka). I mean, the obvious similarity is an aesthetic one. Sam Jones is a band photographer, and he certainly does have a great eye. The film is shot on black and white film, which is a refreshing change from the myriad of documentaries that are all shot digitally. For many documentaries, shooting on film would be neither necessary nor practical, but here it just works. Jones is either brave or smart or stupid to have shot it on film, because so much of filming a band documentary is just keeping the camera running and seeing what happens, and in this day and age, film is bloody expensive! But he most definitely pulls it off.
Aside from the aesthetics, there's a good balance between fly-on-the-wall cinema verite, interviews, and concert footage. I Am Trying To Break Your Heart follows Wilco just as they are putting the finishing touches on their album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. We also get into the whole caffuffle that happened between Wilco and their label Reprise, where the label was not happy with the album, and thus released the band from the contract and were allowed to keep their album! The album was eventually released to amazing reviews. Anyways, take a look at the trailer and if your interest is at all piqued by this then go out to your local video store and rent it. It's one of the best music documentaries out there and you don't need to go into it knowing anything about the band.