September 13, 2012 at 10:39 AM

‘Last Days Here’: A Film Review

"'Last Days Here' is an incredible true story of a tortured creative genius struggling with their diseases in a very intense time for music and art"

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This blog is written on behalf of the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival and will serve as an honest, unbiased review of a few films that will be screening this year. Hopefully, these reviews will inspire conversation and discussion amongst other viewers and encourage the over all appreciation and dissection of this art we call film.

“Last Days Here” is a 2011 documentary from directors Don Argott and Demian Fenton about the life Bobby Leibling, the troubled musical genius and lead singer of the band Pentagram. In the early 1970s, Pentagram was one of the pioneering bands in what is now known as ‘doom metal’, a style of music associated with dread, despair and impending death. Though bands like Black Sabbath made the genre popular, Pentagram was a band on the verge of fame and fortune that was held back by their neurotic and volatile leading man.

The film starts with footage of Liebling himself, now in his '50s and living in his parent’s basement, talking about the (almost) glory days and reflecting on his life of addictions and wasted or, in his eyes, neglected talent. The camera shows him going about his average day, which mostly consists of lounging about on the couch in a haze of cocaine and heroine that keeps him hovering near death. This stark reality is then juxtaposed when the film embarks on his past and the story of Pentagram, taking on a much more narrative tone and pace using interviews with his parents, fellow band members, and modern day fans. The film switches back and forth between the past and present plot lines, all culminating and leading up to the final concert, the comeback (or rather the last hoorah) performance of Bobby Liebling and of Pentagram.

The people interviewed in the film and the overall impression is that Pentagram was a hidden gem of musical brilliance that all came down to the talent of Bobby Liebling. While lamenting the unfortunate lack of popularity, the fans consider Pentagram a band worthy of every glory, elevating him to the level of a deity and the experience of the music to practically religious. But the reality is that Liebling was a deeply tormented soul whose demons and demands of perfection made him impossible to work with, thus costing the band the fame they may have deserved. In the present story, the audience sees him, with the help of friends, fighting those demons and eventually overcoming his dysfunction long enough to perform a comeback show.

If you have no interest in doom metal or the whole '70s rock era, than this film will hold little interest for you. Likewise, if images of drugs and deterioration are too extreme for you, then it might be best to pass on by. However, “Last Days Here” is an incredible true story of a tortured creative genius struggling with their diseases in a very intense time for music and art, art that is just now being rediscovered and appreciated. If you appreciate a come back story, then this might by for you.

Rachel Anderson hails from the land of Portland, Oregon and is currently a film student at the Santa Fe University of Art and Design. Having been an avid film watcher from an early age, she is interested in film simply for the love of it. While not in school or working part time at a theater, she seeks as much involvement and experience as possible in the industry.

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