3 Days - Jane's Addiction Review
If there's a moment in Jane's Addiction's tour film 3 Days that might end up as an iconic moment, it’s Dave Navarro, on the phone to his girlfriend. We hear her through the speaker and she seems unaware that there is a camera present. No wonder, as he is apologizing for not being able to be intimate with her when he was all "messed up on drugs." She tells him not to worry, and she loves him. Then she asks, "Are you shooting up right now?". He grins; he has been absent-mindedly sniffing at some sort of bottle of chemicals. He says no, and he closes the bottle and looks at the camera with a look that is as evil as it is mischievous. It's a classic rock moment - the innocence of the phone call, the raw quality of the question, the look, the bottle and the silent, intrusive camera always filming, always present; all these elements combine to make a totally unplanned, gonzo like moment when the guards are down and we see the naked moment in all it's sordid rock 'n' roll glory.
A few more moments like this, and 3 Days could well have been one of those classic rock films, to be mentioned alongside such gems as Gimme Shelter, Look Back In Anger or even The Filth and the Fury. As it is, 3 Days often falls dangerously close to Spinal Tap territory. It's true that the ghost of The Tap haunts most tour films but here, it's presence is keenly felt.
Shot during the 1997 Relapse tour, which featured Flea (hurrah) on Bass, the film attempts to give a glimpse of life on the road, and to be fair it achieves this. The trouble, though, is that 3 Days takes itself very seriously. You get the standard vocabulary of the tour film, the slow motion shots of the sunrise on the tour bus, slow motion shots of the band emerging from the stage, slow motion shots of, well, pretty much everything. And of course, a tour film is only as interesting as the band it's portraying. Now, Jane's Addiction are an interesting band, it would seem, so what's the problem?
The problem is that they just don't come across as interesting, no matter how hard they try. Perry Farrel is a fabulous showman, a classic front man, but as a human being he is, well, a bit of an arse. Point a camera at him, and he starts speaking the universal language of the gibberish. And it's that curious dialect of the gibberish, often loved by rock stars, the pretentious gibberish. Perry Farrel is nothing if not fluent. Whether he's spouting nonsense about the tree of life or attempting to engage a rabbi about the nature of Judaism, there's never a moment when he really seems to know what he's talking about, instead, he comes across as an actor, playing the part of intellectual rock star trying to deal with the philosophical problems of existence. And it's a part he plays badly. "Obviousness is so unattractive", he says at one point. Quite.
Dave Navarro, on the other hand, has no such pretensions, and it's thanks to him that the film is at least watchable. He's responsible for some of the best lnes in the film, but it's those lines that tend to remind you of the Tap. Listen to him, "There are things in my life, that, you know, I can't really articulate - I'm not a singer." Really? Nonsense on stilts is what it is, as is most of what he comes out with, but he is an interesting presence throughout. He often seems completely out of his depth in a band, and comes across more like a lost little boy. At times, it's quite touching. Touching, but hilarious at the same time. Witness the raw emotion he displays over the gift of some shortbread. A few hours ago, he has told us, he didn't even know what shortbread was. Now, he's all cut up and touched by it, and in tears in the bathroom. Wipe away the tears, Dave, you'll want to shout, it's just some biscuits.
There's a whole smorgasbord of cameo's to look out for. Indeed, Flea's role could be said to be a cameo of sorts as he's given very little screen time. Also present are Marilyn Manson, Ken Kesey, Eddie Vedder, Val Kilmer and Goldie before the heady Eastenders (British soap opera) days. They aren't given a voice by the filmmakers, though, and that's a pity. Marilyn Manson has never given a dull interview in his life, he wouldn't know how, and he has never felt the need to resort to pseudo-mysticism/intellectualism to get his point across. Some of his input might have given the film a valuable anchor without which, it's often lost in a sea of it's own bullshit.
The one area where 3 Days does work is in the concert footage. Jane's Addiction are a fantastic live band, no doubt, and have some classic songs to fall back on. It's all shot in glorious, vibrant colour and looks fantastic. Though there are times when there will be a little nagging voice in the back of your head. The voice will be whispering "Yes, all very good but it's all nostalgia here", and to a large degree it will be right. The band often seem as though they are just going through the motions, everything from the huge stage show, the dancing girls to Perry Farrel and his costumes it all just seems so tired and, well, irrelevant. Dancing girls were a cliché when The Stranglers were using them and using them twenty years on is just embarrassing, adolescent and artistically vacant.
The songs themselves still sound good, though, the version of Jane Says on here sounds like the definitive version of it and this might be the saving grace of the film. For all their faults, Jane's Addiction wrote some fantastic songs and was once an exciting, edgy band. Watching this film reminds you of this, but at the same time reinforces the sad fact that Jane's Addiction came back from their self inflicted exile as little more than a cabaret band chasing the almighty dollar. Let's leave the final word to Perry, in one of his more lucid moments. "I don't know how much money I have, man, all I know is, like, if I want a sandwich right now, I can get one in, like, fifteen minutes."
Filmed in 1.85:1 and presented non-anamorphically, which is surprising in this day and age, but the picture qaulity is very good, considering the source material is a mix of as many different types of film format as you can think of. The live footage is very good, though, it's digitally shot and colourful. Colours are vibrant throughout, contrast levels are good and there are times when the image is so sharp you could almost cut yourself. Some of the handheld stuff, and there is quite a large amount of this, is a little shabby, but you'd expect that. Nothing to complain about then, but it's worth pointing out that the disc is NTSC and, as already stated, is non-anamorphic. If this is an issue for you, check before buying, as it could look simply awful if blown up onto a large screen or projected.
The sound is superb. Dialogue is clear and the music sounds like it's in your living room. The 5.1 mix is adequate and opens the soundstage nicely. Rears are used for audience effects and various ambiences, but the 2.0 mix is actually better for listening to the music through. Your choice, and it's nice to have the choice.
A rather nice selection of extras. There's a commentary, by Carter Smith and Kevin Ford which is, sadly, rather dull. Well, it seems to be conducted over the phone, which makes it slightly interesting. They point out nice shots, tell of how some of the shots were composed and what sort of film they were using. You're liable to fall asleep, though. There's little in the way of anecdotes or tales of backstage excess. Perhaps there were none, in which case they should have made some up. Anything to avoid the tedium contained herein. Listen to this 'anecdote', "Hey, there's that guy, remember that guy? He showed up at Venice and when it was screened he stood up and pointed! Remember?" And that's one of the more interesting ones.
And then there's the B-Roll footage which is as thrilling as it sounds. If you liked the film, hey, here's more with poorer picture quality. And a whole 42 minutes of it.