'Color Me Obsessed' Brings a Non-Musical Twist to Alamo's Music Mondays


Color Me Obsessed posterBy Virginia Yapp

Immediately after the sold-out screening of Gorman Bechard's documentary Color Me Obsessed: A Film About The Replacements at the Alamo Drafthouse Ritz, the first questions asked of the film's director at the Q&A were about something many audience members may have had on their minds: "Why didn't you use any of The Replacements' songs in your documentary? Was the rock doc's lack of 'Mats tracks due to copyright issues? Wouldn't you have put music in the documentary if you had been able to get it?"

Fair enough. Color Me Obsessed may be just about the only movie shown as part of the Drafthouse's signature Music Mondays programming that had not a single note of music. Instead, the documentary -- true to its title -- examines the fervent fandom surrounding the iconic '80s rock band from Minneapolis, rather than presenting the band's greatest hits interspersed with archival footage and photos. You might consider this the anti-concert film.

Berchard, who has been touring the world with his film for about a year now, claims he made the conscious decision not to use music to tell the "potentially true story" of The Replacements. Instead, he filters the band's modest rise and major fall through the mouths of friends, journalists and fellow musicians that knew the band back in its heyday. Tom Arnold, Lori Barbero and Grant Hart are just a few of the talking heads who make an appearance, along with regular fans.

While Color Me Obsessed follows a fairly linear path -- sketching out general details of the band's raw, punkish beginnings in the early 1980s to its critical success in the mid- to late 1980s to its sad unraveling in the early 1990s -- it's clearly more interested in providing insights into the communal, comforting aspects of fandom than delving into messy, personal details about the "janitor, a kid and a drunk" who comprised the band (along with drummer Chris Mars, of course, whom the film's talking heads all count as the sanest of the four).

In fact, some of the most compelling -- and, occasionally, slightly cringeworthy -- footage comes in the form of interviews with the fans themselves. From the man who grew up on a farm and made Tommy Stinson his imaginary friend as a young teenager to the girl who was moved to tears speaking about how the band got her through her teenage years, the Replacements have had an enduring effect on the lives of millions. Albums like Tim, Let It Be, Stink and Pleased to Meet Me are still requisite listening for disaffected youth and hold up quite well to this day (despite some rather slick '80s production on latter albums).

Other items touched upon during the post-screening Q&A included queries about why Berchard barely mentioned the band's "replacement" guitarist Slim Dunlap (Berchard candidly admits it's because he's biased against anything the band put out after Bob Stinson was unceremoniously kicked out of the band ... also, something about Dunlap being a bit of a bad guy); why much-maligned Goo Goo Dolls frontman Johnny Reznik was given screen time (Berchard staunchly vouched for the quality of early Goo Goo Dolls records); and why Husker Du's Bob Mould didn't pop up for an interview (requisite explanation about Mould's legendary grumpiness).

Speaking of Husker Du, Berchard noted that he and his production company will be starting work on another documentary soon about Grant Hart, entitled Every Everything. Berchard's most recent film, an Archers of Loaf concert film called What Did You Expect?, is set for a release this July.

Virginia Yapp is an Intern at the Austin Film Society.

A few corrections from the person answering the Q&A questions


Just want to point out that while I do prefer the Bob Stinson-era Replacements, I specifically said during my Q&A that as a filmmaker you go with what you have. And after 145 interviews no one really every mentioned Slim. And that the few stories I did have cast him in an unflattering light, thus my reason for not including them.

Also my "claim" that I made the conscious decision not to use music. All you have to do is contact Peter Jespersen and ask him. I never for a second tried to use their music in this film. It's not a claim, it's a fact. Big difference.

As for the first three Goo Goo Dolls records, anyone who puts them down hasn't heard them, and is just biased by their hits. They are nothing like what followed, but completely in the spirit of "Sorry Ma." Seriously, put on "Goo Goo Dolls," "Jed" and "Hold Me Up" and tell me these records don't rock. They are great examples of American power punk rock. I personally don't love what followed, but that anyone in the audience would have a problem with the band members admitting how much they loved and were influenced by the Mats is just childish nonsense. You should respect them more for admitting it!

And really now, there was only one person in the audience who did have issue with the Goo Goo Dolls. (I did get applause when I stood up for their first three records, if you recall.) It was the same person who had issue with the lack of music, and if I remember correctly, the lack of Slim. Hmmm.

Gorman Bechard