Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—Last Days Here (2012) ***

NR, 91 min.
Directors: Don Argott, Damien Fenton
Starring: Bobby Liebling, Sean Pelletier

The documentary “Last Days Here” tells the often sad story of Bobby Liebling, front man for the seminal doom metal band Pentagram. Liebling’s band was once thought to be potentially as big as Black Sabbath, but Liebling’s demanding personality resulted in an ever revolving door of band members and producers. He was impossible to work with and eventually drugs took him from any form of functional life. When the filmmakers of this documentary caught up with Liebling, he was living in his parents’ basement and in a world of drug fueled paranoia.

The opening passages are just depressing. Liebling looks like he’s older than his parents, and there is little hope that he will ever escape the drugs that have imprisoned him in near madness. A fan of Pentagram, Sean Pelletier, gets it in his head that he can pull Liebling out of his malaise and mount a Pentagram comeback. In the past decade Pentagram’s music has had a resurgence in popularity, and Pelletier is responsible for bringing many of the band’s previously unreleased tracks to light. He thinks Liebling can make another Pentagram album. I think he’s just as delusional as the drug addled Liebling.

Then something unexpected happens. One of those things you would never believe if it were scripted. Liebling actually does turn things around. He still battles with his own personality to a great degree, but he makes progress. He develops hope. It is the last thing I expected in watching this man’s life. He had been down so long; a turn around was all but unthinkable. It isn’t magical. They don’t get the record made. He has setbacks, but in the end he’s in a much better space than he had been for many, many years. It makes for a fascinating documentary about a fascinating person.

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