I started things off with a 9 a.m. screening of Paul Crowder and Murray Lerner‘s Amazing Journey:The Story of The Who, and I left in an angry huff 25 minutes later. The limited footage I saw told me that Crowder and Lerner are hacks, propagandists and bald-faced liars. By all means see this foggy-minded doc when it turns up on DVD, but you’d do well to inject a heroin-cocaine speedball at the same time. The more drugged up you are, the better it will play.
It was bad enough that Amazing Journey began like a rote-worship piece in the regimented form of all rock-music documentaries. This groaningly familiar format — opening montage, talking-head sum-ups about the group’s legend, adolescent beginnings, struggling parents, first guitars, etc — has been adhered to so closely and so often that it’s become almost comical. Don’t documentarians have any pride when it comes to films like this? Do they think audiences are dumb sheep?
Then things took a bizarre turn about 15 minutes in when the band story was abandoned so that Crowder and Lerner could suddenly downshift into a tribute section about the late John Entwistle, the Who’s miraculous bass player who died on 6.27.02 at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas. One minute, two minutes …”what the fuck are they doing?” I whispered to Meredith Brody, who was sitting two seats away. “The film just started and they’re suddenly doing this Entwistle whitewash thing because he died of drug use!”
Entwistle left the earth “due to a heart attack induced by an undetermined amount of cocaine,” according to most accounts (and one in particular), and it’s pretty well known that Entwistle battled cocaine addiction through much of his adult life. And yet Crowder and Lerner have the nerve to run a clip of Who guitarist-singer- songwriter Pete Townsend saying that Entwistle “had one addiction and it began with the letter H — Harrod’s in London. He was a fashion plate and loved shopping there, but that, really, was his only addiction!” [Note: not an exact transcript, but pretty close to what Townsend says.]
That was it. I looked at the unperturbed Brody, got up, grabbed my bag and bolted the hell out of there. It was all I could to restrain myself from walking up to the movie screen and spitting on it. [Note: A journalist friend says that Amazing Journey admits later on that Entwistle had drug issues, so Crowder and Lerner aren’t total liars — they just allow Townsend to float a lie in the beginning without challenging it. By my standards that’s the same damn thing, but let’s try and be liberal.]