The Grant Hart documentary is everything it ought to be

Categories: Music History
Whatever you think you know about Grant Hart, it's not everything. A new documentary detailing his career, Every Everything: The Music, Life & Times of Grant Hart, tackles the obvious plot points of any Behind the Music episode, but it also scrapes around for more behind the cardboard cutout of the former Hüsker Dü drummer.

Premiering locally as part of the 2013 Sound Unseen Festival on Wednesday, November 13, this film fleshes out a bounty of stories that'll never be summed up in a Wikipedia entry. Here, there's the space to highlight the 52-year-old Hart's sense of humor, his compassion, and his brilliant mind still at work.

See Also: An argument for Grant Hart's The Argument

Interviewing a musician well is extremely difficult. An interviewer wants a good story, and the musician wants to get out of the thing with his dignity intact. Often, well-meaning and well-researched interviewers get too obsessed with a preconceived angle -- or their own personal history with the artist -- to see the story unfolding right in front of them. A compelling interview figures out how to let Kanye West be Kanye West while still arriving at something coherent.

Given the nature of cameras, editing, lighting, permits, and endless logistics, making a worthwhile documentary about a musician is even tougher. This film shows that director Gorman Bechard, who met Hart while creating 2011's Color Me Obsessed: A Film About the Replacements, earned the trust of his subject  and could tell this story with its warts intact.

Gorman Bechard
"Filmmakers dream about getting a subject as witty and eloquent as Grant," Bechard told City Pages last year, in a story about the film. "My only problem will probably be, how to cut down all the amazing hours of talk to 90 minutes!"

And the same story points out that Hart wanted to tell his side of the Hüsker breakup that Bob Mould outlined in his own book. Even with the biases for its lone interview subject, it's a relief that this film doesn't come off as just a "he-said, he-said" account of old gossip. It also shows a level of creative enthusiasm on the part of both Hart and Bechard to play to the visual medium and create a natural story arc. A documentary with only one guy talking is an especially dangerous proposition, but letting Grant Hart just be Grant Hart for 93 minutes works on several levels.

First, the locations where Every Everything was filmed help tell the story immensely. There's the site of the old Cheapo Records where Hart met Mould, the 7th St. Entry where they played too many times to count, and the studios where they recorded. Less obvious touchstones like Midway Book Store on University in St. Paul show Hart digging for old magazines. Then, his artistic eye and flair for graphic design -- displayed on the cover of every Hüsker release and also the Replacements' Hootenanny -- is put to the test in front of our eyes as he creates a collage.

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