My Favourite Documentary: Jonah Hill

It was the film that set the pace for rock documentaries to come. Dig! released almost 15 years ago profiled the hilarious and at often times sad and bitter feud between two iconic 90s American indie rock bands The Dandy Warhols and The Brian Jonestown Massacre.   The film now a firm part of rock folklore was directed by American Ondi Timoner and at the time of release critics gushed over it calling it a ‘masterwork’ and ‘brutally honest’. The film also went on to win the highest independent film honour there is the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance.

In a preview of our chat with The Wolf of Wall Street and 21 Jump Street star Jonah Hill to be released this summer, we quizzed the actor/director about his favourite films and was surprised to find out he’s an avid watcher of documentaries. In fact so much so, that the star of the soon to be released Gus Van Sant feature Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot describes himself as an ‘88% documentary person’. 


Here he tells us why the film had such a profound effect on him:

‘I just love the two characters and what they represent and their interactions with each other. One is the actual tortured brilliant artist who gets in his own way and they can’t become huge and the other one is this guy who’s a savvy businessman but isn’t off the rails and a true artist in the same way. And they’re both jealous of each other and it’s so fascinating’.

The film follows the riotous lives of The Dandy Warhols and Brian Jonestown Massacre over the course of seven years (beginning in 1996) as they attempt to navigate a path to success and fame. With scenes of debauchery, drugs and downfall, it’s almost hard to watch at times. However, in this love-hate relationship between the bands’ frontmen, Anton Newcombe of Brian Jonestown Massacre and the Dandy’s Courtney Taylor-Taylor the film gives a genuine glimpse into a giant rock rivalry contrasted with a deep sense of humanity behind both characters.

Newcombe’s battle with drugs and mental illness undoubtedly takes centre stage in the film, which even caused the band to release a statement on their website after its release accusing Timoner of misrepresenting reality and making ‘a movie, not a documentary’. In fact, all band members denounced the film calling it inaccurate and exaggerated.
However, the scenes of destruction are undeniable, such as a moment which Hill notes, ‘when they have that million dollar showcase for Capitol Records and he just fucks the whole thing up and it’s so heart-breaking. Like he can’t help it, it’s so self-destructive’.

What happened to Anton and Courtney all these years later? Anton set up shop in Berlin where he’s been for the last ten years and has been prolific in releasing records, their latest from 2017 called Don’t Get Lost and they’re still actively touring.
Never managing to climb back to the top of the rock peak they once climbed with their cult classic, Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia (2000) The Dandy Warhols have released several albums since the films release their latest from 2016 with Distortland.

We believe this film is ripe for a re-release!