I try not to make generalizations when it comes to movies. Just when I come to the conclusion that I don’t like music documentaries, I come across something like Thunder Soul or The Weird World of Blowfly that I really enjoy. When I read a description of Last Days Here, it didn’t really sound like something that would appeal to me, but I had heard glowing endorsements from others about the film, so I decided to check it out. I’m glad to hear that other recent first-timers fell in love with it, but I was not as enamored with the film as I’d hoped I would be.
The heavy metal band Pentagram has been around on and off for over 40 years. And for virtually all of that time, lead singer Bobby Liebling has been taking drugs. Not just marijuana, but harder stuff like heroin, crack, and various kinds of pills. He’s logged over 50 trips to the hospital and has been on the verge of death so many times that even his parents (with whom he still lives) have a hard time getting worked up about it any more. He suffers from delusions and hallucinations, and on the increasingly rare occasions in which he’s lucid enough to play, he is so difficult to work with that Pentagram has many more former members than current ones.
But there’s something about Pentagram’s music that appeals to their dedicated fans. When Sean Pelletier, who worked for a small indie record label, first came across a Pentagram album around the year 2000, he was inspired enough to track down Liebling and found that they didn’t live too far apart. While Bobby was clearly on the road to killing himself through drug abuse, Sean held out hope that he could be saved by music. Perhaps if Pentagram could play again, Bobby could clean up his act enough to live a little longer and inspire a new generation of fans.
There is no denying that
Last Days Here
evoked just about as strong an emotional response as I’ve ever had to a documentary. But unfortunately that response is probably not what the filmmakers intended. I found Bobby so completely detestable and such an obviously lost cause that it was at times painful to watch. About the only fortunate aspect of his life for humanity in general is that his parents take care of him so he’s not collecting welfare, but that still doesn’t keep him from leeching off society in other ways.
I think that perhaps part of my aversion to the film lies in how Bobby’s changes affected my attitude toward and about him. It was easy to hate him when he was a complete waste with no redeeming quality of any kind, but if he did something to indicate that perhaps he may be capable of contributing something to society after all, I found myself strangely disappointed by that. I think that I somehow got more satisfaction from being able to completely write him off than from the idea that there may yet be hope for him, and I don’t like what that implies about me as a person. It’s a slippery slope on the path to watching reality television and professional wrestling that I’d rather stay as far away from as possible.