New York Doll (2005) Poster

(2005)

User Reviews

Review this title
52 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
8/10
Not Your Average Epiphany
baho22 January 2006
Religious conversion stories are often dreadfully boring to all but fellow believers. Too often they are tales of interesting lives of despair lifted by a higher power to lives of less-than-fascinating virtue. I don't mean to imply criticism of epiphanies in any form. But it is an axiom of sectarian movie marketing that the religiously inclined will tolerate the blandest of cinema if packaged faithfully, and that's often what they get.

I was expecting more of the same when I heard about New York Doll at Sundance last year. This is the story of Arthur "Killer" Kane, bass player for the legendary New York Dolls rock 'n roll band of the '70's. For those that didn't follow the pop music scene back then, the Dolls were one of the hardest-edged, most controversial groups of their era. Forerunners of the punk movement, they paraded in drag and set the stage for later bands such as The Sex Pistols, The B-52's and The Clash.

Like so many other punk bands, the Dolls fell victim to excesses and addiction. Kane, known for his "killer" bass lines, was sometimes too drunk to perform, and would simply stand on-stage with a bass around his neck while a roadie filled in for him. (However, since Kane was known for his wooden posture on stage, it may have been hard to tell whether he was really playing or not!) After a meteoric four years, the Dolls dissolved and Kane drifted into alcoholism and obscurity, only reclaiming his life with his 1989 conversion to Mormonism and work at the LDS Family History Center in Los Angeles.

But despite his discovered spirituality, he always harbored the desire for the band to reunite and play again. His seemingly impossible dream was realized in 2004, when Morrissey (The Smiths) engineered a reunion of the Dolls for the London Meltdown Festival.

Director Greg Whitely crafts a warm and engaging story set to this strange juxtaposition. Kane is an intriguing personality—simple, friendly and honest, he talks wistfully of his days of drugs, sex and rock and roll ("some of my fondest memories," he says) yet never wavers from his commitment to his Mormon faith. Interspersed in the reunion story are thoughts on Kane from Mormon co-workers and religious leaders as well as punk rockers Morrissey, Sir Bob Geldof (of Boomtown Rats and then Live Aid fame), Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders, Iggy Pop and others.

But the drama is the reunion itself. Two of the Dolls died in the early 90's, leaving Kane, guitarist Sylvain Sylvain and singer David Johansen. Of the three, Johansen found the most success post-Dolls, both as an actor as well as singing under the alter-ego Buster Poindexter (remember "Hot, Hot, Hot"?). Kane resented Johansen for nearly three decades, and the tension is palpable when the singer arrives (over a day late) for rehearsals. While time and hard living have clearly slowed, humbled and mellowed Kane, in contrast Johansen comes across like Mick Jagger—a youthful glam rocker in a craggy-faced, 50-year-old body. While Kane appears non-plussed by the experience, Johansen is still energized by the spotlight.

What is truly touching is how they resolve their differences, rekindle their relationship and develop mutual respect. Kane tries to explain his religion to a bemused Johansen, including the Mormon principal of tithing—"It's like an agent's fee," he explains. "It's only 10 percent. It's a pretty good deal." New York Doll is a well-executed and compassionate documentary that will warm the hearts of faithful and heathen alike. Whitely clearly cares deeply for Arthur Kane, who seems to have touched the lives of everyone—even those from the Dolls' era. And it's impossible not to like Kane, who is so sincerely grateful for his good fortune—his past, his faith and his chance to once again be a New York Doll. This is a tender story with a bittersweet ending, which I won't give away. I will tell you to keep watching as the credits roll, because there's a song you won't want to miss.
39 out of 40 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Blessed are the meek rock 'n roll gods, for they shall inherit the earth
prufrockja14 November 2005
What an enchanting little slice of wish-fulfillment cinema -- I love, love, love it. The thing is, this is not a saccharine Hollywood screenplay, Disneyfied for your viewing pleasure -- it is a real-life fairy tale inhabited by defiant glam rockers and blessed with a glorious racket of a soundtrack. Quirky, charming Arthur Kane guilelessly lays out his life for our examination -- his brief, joyous days of fame, fortune, and fabulous platform boots; his years of remorse and despair, boozing amid the ruins of youthful dreams; the healing peace of his newfound faith; and finally his giddy return to the beginning, as he finds himself in leather pants once again, this time viewing his fame and friendships with a wisdom, humor, and gratitude dearly bought over long years of struggle and spiritual redemption.

He is not so very remarkable, really, and that is what sets this piece apart from rockumentaries and gives it a warmth and depth that is lacking in that worshipful genre. Though he spent years living as a rock god, Arthur knows at age 55 that his long-ago life of fame was a gift, not an entitlement, and that he squandered it. Every audience member with a regret becomes invested in Arthur's story. He speaks frankly of his gratitude to God for lifting his sights and hopes again, but admits that the past haunts him even so. That mixture of peace and aching rings true and keeps this film human and honest even as we trail behind him, wide-eyed, watching him stumble gleefully on old joys and bravely confront his demons. There is a contented, bemused look in his eyes as he basks in the happiness of his reunion with friend and bandmate David Johansen while simultaneously parrying David's playful jabs at the finer points of Arthur's conservative Mormon faith. Gone is the glazed, drunken stare of his early days -- he now knows who he is and what he has and drinks every last drop with sober joy.

I take it back -- Arthur is really QUITE remarkable. Not because he and his friends were the toast of New York and London twice in one lifetime, but because he learns to see things as they really are, whether standing at the bottom of the heap or at the top -- an achievement that is easily as rare as rock and roll fame.

New York Doll is a winsome, moving film, and every time I think of it, it makes me smile.
40 out of 44 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
Interesting non traditional rock doc
taylor7451 February 2005
I caught this film at the Sundance Film Festival. It was one of the most popular films of the series. I'm not a big rock fan nor am I a documentary junkie, but I really liked this film. The back story was that the director began filming the story of a fallen rocker just as amazing things began to happen in his life. Catch it if you have a chance.

Here is the Sundance write up. New York Doll relates the meteoric rise, resounding fall, and recent all-too-brief resurrection of the seminal New York glam-rock-punk band, the New York Dolls, but it is foremost a story about the band's amazing bassist and leader, Arthur "Killer" Kane. With empathy, respect, and humor, director and friend Greg Whiteley follows Kane and interviews key musicians, friends, and colleagues to uncover the legacy of the Dolls and their significant impact on the London music scene in the dizzying heyday of the early 1970s.

After Kane and his band bottom-out on drugs and alcohol, he disappears from music, embracing a surprisingly different path when he becomes a born-again Mormon. When rocker Morrissey organizes a London reunion of the New York Dolls, Kane buys his guitar back from a pawnshop, takes leave of his Family Center library job, and heads back to New York City to prepare for an unlikely comeback.

How will the reconstituted band pull off its first performance in 30 years? Can these musicians possibly recapture the energy and élan that made them legends in their own brief time? What awaits Kane after his short reprise in the spotlight? The answers make New York Doll an entertaining, exhilarating, warmly human, and ultimately bittersweet paean to an era and the man lovingly described by friend and band member David Johansen as "the miracle of God's creation."— Diane Weyermann
34 out of 37 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
God, Fate & The Rock n' Roll Killer - An Absolute Must See Film!!
TheAnimalMother29 January 2010
This is easily one of the most extraordinary documentaries I have ever seen, and I've seen more than a few. In fact I have rated thousands of films on IMDb, and New York Doll happens to be 1 of only 15 films I have given a full 10 rating. First off, this documentary is done the way a documentary is suppose to be done. It is completely observatory. It does not try to make you believe something, or sway your opinion this way or that way. It has a refreshing integrity throughout. After watching NY Doll, I couldn't help but feel that this film in itself seems like such a fateful occurrence. An independent amateur filmmaker happens to stumble into the well aged Arthur 'Killer' Kane, former member of the raucous and raunchy 1970's glam/punk rock act, the New York Dolls. He finds that Arthur misses the days of rock n' roll fame and mischief, but now has a totally new and simple life in which he has found some sort of solace in a new faith in God. What follows upon their collaboration is hard to express fully in words. It must be seen, but it seems as though the filmmaker and the subject met each other at the perfect time. Arthur's journey here in is one so honest, so human, that I found it almost impossible to not get emotionally choked up over, even after repeat viewings; And it is a rare event when I get choked up over a film. This is an absolute must see if you like human stories. If you like movies or documentaries at all, it's a must see. It doesn't matter if you don't believe in God, or even if you don't know who the hell the New York Dolls are. It doesn't even matter if you like rock music. See the film, thank me later.

If I'm acting like a king / Well that's cause, I'm a Human Being / And If I want too many things / Don't you know that, I'm a Human Being / And if I've got to dream / Baby baby yeah, I'm a Human Being

10/10
17 out of 18 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
Excellent portrayal of living in obscurity after Fame. And 2nd chances
arroden29 October 2005
I was lucky enough to catch this movie as part of the Talk Cinema series at The Bridge Cinema De Lux in Los Angeles. I am certain I never would have gone to see this movie if it weren't part of the program and I was even cynical for the first 15 minutes or so. But once you see Arthur Kane and hear him speak you quickly become drawn to him. He is such a quiet, mild-mannered guy of few words but what he does say is usually profound. You are rooting for him from the start even though it seems that the best of his years ended over 2 decades ago. It is interesting to see Arthur's relationship with the Mormon church as result of what appears to be a very sad, drug-addicted life. He finds new purpose in the church and a new job helps suppress some old demons. The director, Greg Whitely, is smart not to make this a Mormon propaganda piece but adding that aspect of Arthur's life makes him come across as a normal guy who just happened to come into fame as a young man and come into a spiritual awakening as an older man. There was a Q&A with the director and producer after the movie and their passion for their subject is obvious and it comes across in the film. Arthur is such a tremendously likable man and even though you may not like rock music, or care about the 70's punk scene (Many of those in attendance admitted they thought that they would not like this movie)you come to care about him and the chance of him possibly tasting fame just one more time. This is an excellent documentary and unlike a lot of Michael Moore films and Moore knock-offs, you never feel a heavy hand pushing the film to make you feel one way or another. The story unravels and it is genuinely compelling. This will likely be in extremely limited release in NY and LA with hopes of making a run for Best Doc Oscar and DVD sales...but do yourself a favor and seek out this film.
32 out of 37 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
Amazing and Inspirational
DonnaGraysonDotCom1 November 2005
I went to see "New York Doll" expecting to see a Rock documentary. Instead I found the movie to be a touching and heartfelt look at a former rock stars religious conversation.

Arthur "Killer" Kane hit rock bottom with alcohol, but he turned to the Bible and to his church. Its an amazing story about how having faith can really help you change your life and fulfill your dream.

I liked that the movie was not preachy against rock music. It showed his Ministers and how they spiritually supported his decision to play again with the band. And I think Arthur portrayed such a fine example of his Morman faith when he got back together with his band mates and dealt with the bad feelings of the past.

The film interviews both Rock Stars, and Mormon Church Members, all talking about Arthur and the New York Dolls. In doing this, it shows both sides of Arthur Kane - the RockStar, and the Devout Mormon. This is a very touching tribute to this member of the New York Dolls.
30 out of 35 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
A Touching and Funny Doc That Goes Beyond Normal Roc Doc Tarritory
willden2123 January 2005
Forget Dig! and the Ramones Doc from last year, this is the Rock doc that you need to see. It is an examination of the New York Doll's Bass Player Arthur "Killer" Kane, and his transformation from rock-bottom alcoholic depressive to born-again Mormon. The film then goes into standard Rock Doc territory showing the history of the band and interviews from surviving band members and historians and similar artists and prodigy's.

But it goes beyond that as it examines his new zest for life, and his longing to reconnect with the remaining members of the dolls to play and reconcile. Just like it is read by his ex-wife in a passage from his book of Mormon, if you pray and ask for something in faith the lord willing will grant it. And shocking enough he gets that miraculous chance to unite at a festival in London.

Other shocking things occur which lead to a tear-jerking and uplifting finale. Now this is a rock doc for fans and their families to watch together. It is almost completely non-offensive (The film-maker I believe is Mormon) and at the same time educational, heartfelt, and completely human.

Lead and held together by fun graphics, and fitting music as well as interviews from close Mormon friends and rock friends of Kane's you see a powerful tale of the importance of finding some kind of meaning in life, whether it be philosophical or spiritual and miracles can happen. This film could not have been any better, proof once again that fact is more astonishing and acts as a better narrative then fiction.
33 out of 39 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
Tender, poignant and seamlessly entertaining
carolejwebber5 November 2005
Even if you know nothing about The New York Dolls you will likely enjoy this touching documentary. The subject Arthur "Killer" Kane is exceedingly likable and the filmmaker tells his story with an affectionate earnestness and irony that is uncommon.

The film succeeds as a documentary, but also as a movie, in as much as it has all of the elements of a good story; a beginning a middle and an end; a protagonist, an antagonist, redemption, humor and humanity.

The music, although not the focus of this film, is fine as well.

I understand that Blender Magazine recently named New York Doll as the 25th (out of 100) best rock movies of all time. For good reason.
20 out of 23 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
Go See This Show!!!!
amyjohnsonpd26 October 2005
This is one of those little films that you don't expect much of, but are blown away by. I was lucky enough to be invited to an early screening, and loved every second of it. "New York Doll" is a great movie that surprised me with the amount of heart it had! I did not even know who the New York Dolls, were, and yet I left a fan, and even more, a fan of Aurthur Kane. Aurthur is such a loving, warm, funny, unique person that he just draws you in. He makes you love him, and makes you want to be his friend. There are so many great unique, funny moments in this film that just could not be written. This movie has a great message, and is wonderful for the entire family, which is so rare. I loved this film, and recommend it, to anyone! Go see it! Search for it, find it.
19 out of 22 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
A Great Documentary
patrickthand3 July 2006
First, I confess that I never "got" The New York Dolls.

Second, this is one of the best documentaries I have ever seen.

The film is a bittersweet, understated but fascinating portrayal of Arthur Kane, the one-time degenerate New York Doll bass player turned Mormon, as he prepares for a reunion concert with his former band mates, and, as it turns out, a far more important gig. The filmmaker treats all of the subjects(including Morrissey, David Johanssen, numerous LDS members, the LDS Church itself, and most of all, Kane) with dignity and respect, and without judgment. The film's unstated message of tolerance and understanding makes this worth watching by all.
5 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
Utterly compelling
joyebarber13 February 2006
I saw a screening of this documentary 3 days ago and haven't been able to stop thinking about it since. Like so many people who have commented I had barely heard of the New York Dolls and really came to see this by chance, but I am so glad I did. Arthur "killer" Kane is utterly compelling to watch as he makes the journey back from obscurity and onto the stage of the Royal Albert Hall. Arthur is a genuine and endearing character and his story is both tragic and uplifting by turns. This documentary is an intimate and thoughtful portrait of and has left an imprint of Arthur on my heart that I think will take a long time to fade.
5 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
This movie ROCKS on many levels!
margeedolly2 December 2005
I loved this movie from start to finish. Simultaneously hilariously funny and movingly poignant, New York Doll is one of the most well-rounded and fulfilling documentaries/biographies I've seen. A screenwriter couldn't have created a more compelling story. I don't know how you could be disappointed by this film. And the music is amazing! Where can I get the soundtrack? At times I found myself laughing so hard that I missed the next funny part, so I'll obviously need to see the picture multiple times. The juxtaposition of music is so effective at illustrating the dichotomy between Killer Kane's lifestyles at various points in his life. All of the music is beautiful and moving, just in different directions. I was thrilled to learn of the far-reaching influence of the Dolls. Although I knew they were an influential force in the early '70s, I had NO idea of the reach they had. So many of my favorite bands were live and in person on this film and attesting to the inspiration they received from the Dolls. Also impressive was the raw use of graphics in illustrating musical family trees and timezones, both of the Dolls and of Killer's life. Although obviously at peace with himself and with his world, Killer Kane was a good example of the long-term effects of substance use (his unfortunate accidents notwithstanding). I highly recommend this film!
14 out of 18 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
Fantastic Film, moving and poignant.
general-melchett11 August 2006
Very interesting film for anyone keen on the history of American punk, glam rock etc.

Arthur comes across as a very likable character who really enjoyed his last chance at stardom, after many years down on his luck. I particularly enjoyed Morrissey's comments on the New York Dolls, being a big fan of his, and was impressed at his role in bringing the New York Dolls back together again after so many acrimonious years apart.

Loved to see the reaction of his library co-workers in America to Arthur's other rock-and-roll side, which came as such a contrast to his meek, gentle man about the library self.

Great music, great characters make a happy, but sad, film, which cannot fail to bring a tear to your eye. 9/10. Strongly recommended.
4 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
The Dolls and the Mormons
maupho29 May 2006
I watched "New York Doll" with intense fascination and moment by moment trepidation, wondering at what point the staunch beliefs of the Mormon church would clash with the life of former rock star Arthur "Killer" Kane. To my utter surprise, as reflected by the "A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief" performance by David Johansen (which is one of the most brilliant juxtapositions ever in music), the empathetic sensitivities of Kane's rocker friends to his conversion to the church and the church's non-judgmental support of his life and dream of reuniting with "his friends" revealed a natural symbiosis I never thought I would see. It has literally renewed my faith in people!
4 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
a documentary that shows music can be presented in a way that enthralls
didi-55 December 2007
Warning: Spoilers
The New York Dolls were briefly the darlings of the pre-punk music scene in the US and UK before they descended into drug-fuelled oblivion and squabbles. This film takes up the story of one of the band, Arthur 'Killer' Kane and follows him around the time the 2004 Meltdown reunion.

As the film progresses there is a great sense of a life largely lost in the wilderness, of missed opportunities, bitterness and regret. Kane's Mormonn faith gives him a reason to view everything through new eyes - particularly his relationship with Dolls' frontman David Johansen, who he seems to have viewed as an enemy for far too long. How sad.

Given the circumstances of the film's completion - Kane unexpectedly died shortly after the concert in the UK - it is very moving to watch and never short of enthralling. The music of the reunited Dolls is presented alongside footage of their Old Grey Whistle Test appearance - showing the years have not been kind but that the sound is still there.

A surprising success, this film is everything a true music documentary should be, and with such a gentle and likable subject it is never a bore or contrived.

And that last song from Johansen and Sylvain Sylvain is perfect to wrap up a strange and lonely tale of a lost rock 'n roll soul.
3 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
What a documentary is supposed to be
spartacus341 June 2007
I watched this movie a week ago and I can honestly say I have found myself thinking about it every day since viewed this "Gem". Arthur "Killer" Kane is as memorable a figure as I have ever seen or or more appropriately "experienced". He is quirky, he is lost, he is sweet and he is naive it just so happens at one time he was the bassist for The New York Dolls a pre-punk band that had mild commercial success in the mid 70's. Who are th New York Dolls you say? They turn out to be the inspiration for artists like Morrissey, Chryssie Hynde, Mick Jones and The Clash as well as Bob Geldof amongst others. The New York Dolls were credited in the movie for creating what became the punk rock wave that hit England in the late 70's. What intrigued me was that they are credited for the movement a few times in the movie and according to Mick Jones of the Clash, this all came from a SINGLE television appearance the Dolls made while in England. Watching this movie was like seeing a biography of Dr. Jekyll. Kane (Jekyll) is older, wiser and filled with faith and regret of "what could have been" beating himself up for the destruction he has caused to himself, his former wife and questioning himself about what he could have done to stop the tidal wave of failure that followed in the wake of the break up of the Dolls . Kane clings onto the hope of reuniting with his 2 surviving former band mates, like Linus does his blanket. I was moved to see a man who once was a "rock god", now humbled as he is filmed riding the bus to his job as a glorified "gopher" at the Latter Day Saints family history library in Los Angeles. Kane the once proud and defiant bass player is shown to be so broke now that his LDS church loans him the money to get his bass out of a pawn shop. Kane is shown to be deeply religious but even that does not help in dealing with his anger and jealousy over the career that David Johansen aka "Buster Poindexter" has carved out over the years while Kane faded into alcoholism, poverty and obscurity. Arthur Kane reflects the pain and confusion that everyone has experienced at one time in their life, wondering how something wonderful and so precious was lost, praying that the opportunity avails itself one last time and to embrace and clutch onto the moment. I will not spoil the ending to this beautifully crafted movie, a film that is at times funny ,emotionally devastating and inspirational. I will say that it was the first time I shed tears during the credits of movie in more than 20 years. Do yourself a favor see this movie even if you are not a fan of the New York Dolls, I am sure after you see the movie you will be...
3 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
A great character film and a rockumentary where you are a Dolls' fan or not (spoilers)
bob the moo6 May 2007
Warning: Spoilers
In the seventies, Arthur "Killer" Kane was the base player for influential punk band "The New York Dolls". Nearly thirty years later he is living in LA and working as a librarian in a family history centre, riding the bus everywhere and living on a tiny income . Director Greg Whiteley starts the film focusing on Kane and his life today but, during the film, an opportunity comes up to reunite the Dolls for a gig in London. Arthur accepts and the camera follows him as he reunites with people he hasn't seen for decades.

I know very little about the New York Dolls, only being vaguely familiar with their music and could only have told you David Johansen's name out of the whole group. However this didn't seem to matter here because the film starts out to be more about the very low-key existence of a fallen rock star as represented by Arthur Kane. This aspect of it is very interesting and provides plenty of moments that are touching, comic and telling. Director Whiteley is affectionate to his subject but is not sentimental and the mix is almost spot on because it feels a balanced view of this man who now rides a bus to a low-wage job, is balding and just looks like a man who lived with his mother for fifty years and is now trying to get by without her.

He is a wonderfully unassuming character and it is a joy to spend this time with him because he has all this tragedy, sadness, hope and survival. I knew so little about the Dolls that I did not even know that he had died and the end of the film is almost unbearably bittersweet and it hurt to learn of his death while I had just spent an hour getting to know it. Alongside the film focusing on Arthur the London gig gives a way into the Dolls themselves which does expand on who Arthur is but also allows for a potted history of the Dolls. Lots of contributions and wonderfully candid footage combine to build this whole up and it makes for a great film.

I'm pretty sure that fans of the Dolls will enjoy this but for me I can only speak as a casual viewer with no knowledge. As such I loved it. I thought it was a tremendously touching, tragic and comic character study that folds into a rockumentary of the Dolls and the fact that I knew nothing about the subject only meant that the news of Arthur's sudden death just felt like a kick in the gut. A great film – fan or not.
3 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
New York Doll
hardy_johnson12 June 2006
"New York Doll" is an true-life story of humanity, rock & roll, and redemption. Fueled by a propulsive soundtrack, Greg Whitely uses a light touch in his directorial debut. The result is a moving independent film; spare, authentic, and emotional.

This is no "Behind The Music", but a reason to love rock & roll for all it is; both good and bad. Arthur "Killer" Kane achieved quick success in the early 70s with The New York Dolls. Infused with part Ramones, Ziggy Stardust, and Sex Pistols, The Dolls were avante garde rebels in an era when rock & roll fans were looking for a new direction.

Commentary by Morrisey, Iggy Pop, and Sir Bob Geldof paint the backdrop. Greg Whitely's genealogical timeline takes us through the tragic fall and slow path towards redemption, culminating with a re-union concert in London.

Stay tuned through the credits for a special arrangement of a hymn, arranged and performed by Johansen and Sylvain. The bluesy acoustics, Johansen's raspy lyrical pathos, and plaintive harmonica brought a tear to my eye.
3 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
Heartwarming and Heartbreaking.
ukgal9-115 December 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I had the pleasure of watching the film with an old friend. We met by chance in the theater. We are Dolls fans. Am am glad that I got to see what happened to him. He was a lovely man. Everyone said so. I met him in 1975 and he really seemed sweet and I was happy to see that through his journey he remained the same. The sad part was he lived for the Dolls. He talked daily about his band and how one day he would get back with them and all would be alright again. The filmmaker was at the screening and during the Q&A period he was asked, "If Arthur had lived, what do you think would have happened?" he said, "Without sounding cruel or insensitive, I think that him passing at the time he did was the kindest thing to have happened to him. He lived for the day that the band played again. They did, he was treated like the rock-star he was, 5* hotels, with limos and adoration.... and then he had to go back to his 'regular' job. He had fulfilled his dream. He was loved and he still is loved. We miss him."
5 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
a life-changing film, better than fiction
charrette15 November 2005
This film is a life-changing look at one man's journey from fame to failure to faith...and back again. It's the story of New York Dolls founder Arthur "Killer" Kane and his virtual demise after problems with drugs and alcohol. Arthur lives a desperate and impoverished life for many years, and then somehow stumbles onto an ad for a Book of Mormon and joins their church. He is so candid and guileless in his comments about where he's been and how he's changed. When he gets wind that his band is reuniting, the real fun begins. How will this gentle Mormon man revisit his glam rock past, confront past demons, and pull off a concert tour in London?

I have seen it three times, and cannot stop thinking about how honest and subtle and straightforward a portrayal it is. I am still in awe of the "truth is stranger (and better) than fiction" elements here. Even a great writer could not invent a story this amazing with characters so diverse...no one would believe it or buy it. But that it's all documented here is like living an amazing fantasy, and glimpsing into a world (or two) most of us will never imagine, let alone experience. This movie has a compassionate, nonjudgmental look at humanity, and offers an abundance of hope.
5 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
A Very Pleasant Surprise
munoapl15 November 2005
Go see this movie! I went on a friend's recommendation not knowing what to expect and got a very pleasant surprise.

It's a touching story that is well told. I thought they did a great job of telling Arthur's story while covering the band's history and reunion, all culminating in their London performance. The years of alcohol abuse and personal injury have certainly taken their toll. Arthur reminded me somewhat of Joe Walsh in his speech pattern. A simple man with a childlike faith. Very endearing.

Hats off to the film makers. Nice work! Stay through the credits and listen to the music. It's very touching. My wife had to compose herself before leaving the theater and I confess that I had to wipe a tear or two.
5 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Pretty F-in' Sweet
AtomicZeke25 October 2005
THIS MOVIE ROCKS.

There've been a lot of music docs in the last few years but this one I think is pretty special. The NY Dolls aren't your typical rock band Arthur Killer Kane isn't your typical movie subject.

Of course, if you like the Dolls -- and if you don't, you're crazy -- you'll love the movie. There's great early 70s footage and their reunion in London in 2004 is amazing. But what makes the movie so cool is the personal story of Arthur, a former drunk whose dream of playing with his old bandmates comes true after years of hard times.

The musical performances are AWESOME. No one has ever sounded like the Dolls and no one ever will. There are interviews with David Johannson and Bob Geldof and Morrisey and the movie is as rocking as it is personal.

A GREAT MOVIE. GO SEE IT.
11 out of 17 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
Rock and Roll works in mysterious ways!
heyheyheythatswhatisay10 August 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I think my new favorite movie about Rock and Roll is also my favorite movie about religion! A quiet, dweebish librarian for the Mormon temple gets a chance to play with his old band, which happens to be one of the most important (and outrageous!) bands in rock and roll history. It's the chance he's dreamed of for thirty years, and his church friends help him get his bass guitar out of hock.

Years earlier, the excesses of the rock and roll lifestyle drove him mad, and nearly killed him, but this time Arthur "Killer" Kane stays humble, strives to be "a good latter day saint", leads the band in a backstage prayer, plays a triumphant set before ecstatic fans in London-- and then returns to his Mormon life, not knowing that he will be dead from leukemia in just a few months.

If it were written in a script, you'd find it too unbelievable, but it's all real, right down to the motherbeeping New York Dolls bowing their heads in prayer. I love how the incredible irony is never played up. No one telling the story feels the need to say how ironic this all is. Arthur Kane feels no conflict between his Mormon faith and his rock and roll. "My job", he says, "is making people happy." No one makes fun of Arthur. Both his Mormon friends and his Rock and Roll friends are interviewed, and they all have insights into his amazing story.

Back in the day, Arthur and lead singer David Johansen were feuding, but now, as grown-ups, the affection between the old friends is palpable. After the show, David says to Arthur: "I love you so much! You make me so happy!" Really, this is not so much a documentary as a feelgood-tearjerker scripted by Almighty God himself. And God turns out to be a Dolls fan.

If you want to know my opinion, I find the tenets of Mormon faith to be more that a little strange... but I was genuinely moved by the story of how Arthur Kane saved himself by finding a life of humility and service. And the band rocked!
4 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
Great film....must see.
patrick-4866 November 2005
With so much garbage in the theatres, especially with documentaries, this film delivers the reason I am looking for when I decide whether to stay home, or attend the cinema. One would think there would be a little bit of Mormon bashing in this film, but there is none. It is simply a story of one man's life, the good and the bad. He was in the iconic band "New York Dolls", has some very hard years, joins the LDS church and turns his life completely around, then has the chance to re-unite with the Dolls. That is all I will say as the humor, fate, and coincidence that ensues has to be viewed, not described. I will say this, the director absolutely knew his music history, which is a nice bonus as it puts the story in it's proper context. Definitely see this film. If you are a Dolls fan, never heard of the Dolls, a Mormon, or could care less about the LDS Church, the message in the film is for all. Ask your local movie theatre to show it as soon as possible.
6 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
A Kind Soul Who Rocked Remembered
AudioFileZ10 April 2017
Warning: Spoilers
The New York Dolls. They make the success of The Ramones look massive. Truth is both bands didn't get nearly enough of their deserved airplay or record sales while they existed, The Dolls almost none in comparison. Many years of repeatedly new generations discovering these great bands rights the wrongs somewhat even if the artists pockets are still receiving only a pittance of what this music must be, in truth, generating. But, there's something beyond the old story of the starving hard working artist here. Unlike The Ramones The Dolls were but a blip on the radar as they shortly imploded among-st death, drugs, and an ever changing musical landscape. One of them left the music business entirely.

As for history, it's fickle of course. In The Dolls case it had a coda that was positive. Morissey of The Smiths, an influential artist of the 90's, had the vision to get the surviving Dolls together again for at least one reunion show. It proved providentially wonderful as shown here, particularly for Arthur "Killer" Kane bassist for the band. Though he had been out of the business for approximately thirty years he had a wish that he could somehow reunite with his old mates. His story is a compelling one. A man who had found his Spiritual center he was very content living as an employee of The Mormon Church in a very modest way. Still it seems he had a need for a musical resolution, maybe more so with his old chum David Johansen. It really seems like a blessing for Arthur as this film simply tells. If the concert was for the fans it was more for Arthur and then for David and Sylvain in short order. It was a triumphant return to England where their famous TV appearance was called "mock rock" by host Bob Harris on November 26th 1973 and is where drummer Billy Murcia had died just a year earlier.

Arthur as the film shows definitely had an inner peace about him. He was a very humble and kind soul it is clear. He may have needed some closure that never was as for his New York Dolls existence; it seems he was truly blessed and received it. In less than six months after the show he was becoming ill and received a serious diagnosis. Perhaps this final chapter was meant to be. It's truly uplifting how his church family supported this momentary return to his other life. They didn't down it or cast a shadow on it, instead fully supporting his wish to reunite his old band when given the chance. I think it made a good man more at peace and fulfilled. Filmmaker Greg Whiteley did a wonderful job of showing the special man and musician Arthur Kane was.
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews


Recently Viewed