MEET ME IN THE BATHROOM will make you ask “is that it?” —Moviejawn

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Directed on Will Lovelace and Dylan Southern
With: The Strokes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, LCD Soundsystem, Interpol and other groups from the New York music scene of the early 2000s
Duration: 1h45
Opening November 4 at the IFC Center in New York and the Los Feliz Theater in Los Angeles

by Ian Hrabe, Editor

Whether that’s your thing or not, there was no avoiding the emergence of The Strokes and Yeah Yeah Yeahs around the turn of the century. As a sulky 15-year-old punk rocker, I vividly remember seeing Strokes’ video for “Last Nite” on MTV – for those not born in the Stone Age, MTV played music videos – and my immediate reaction was visceral: these guys suck. They were posers. They were absolutely not for me. One of my best friends was a huge Strokes guy and even his assurance that their debut album Is this this was excellent, I scoffed. A few years later, I checked out Yeah Yeah Yeahs based on the massive buzz they were getting from Pitchfork (I had since moved on to an insufferable indie rock snob by then) and again, I am mocked. It wasn’t until I worked minimum wage at a used CD/DVD store after graduating from college in the late 2000s that the stuff of the New York scene got to me. This whole sad six month period of my life started every working day with the Strokes Is this this blasting on the store radio while I counted the money and moved on to their second album Chamber on fire when the store opened. I finally understood.

And then all these New York rock and roll revival dominoes started falling into place. Interpol was still tearing up Joy Division, but my snobbery had lessened, and I was able to really get into their early records (their second album Antics survived many purges of my vinyl record collection). TV on the Radio – the one band in this scene that I loved wholeheartedly – became an even bigger favourite. It was weird, but sometimes you just need to put a little distance between something before you tackle it properly. We’ve all hated a movie when it first came out, then suddenly had it clicked for a second watch years later when our circumstances changed. I still listen to those first two Strokes records regularly, and while I haven’t read Lizzie Goodman’s book on The Stage, I was pretty excited to check out that doc when I heard about it. And I was pretty disappointed when it turned out that it was a superficial look at that scene that made everyone as obnoxious as I imagined.

Told exclusively in archival footage with voiceovers from the scene’s main actors, Meet me in the bathroom really has nothing interesting to say. It’s a rapid game-by-game of the rise and fall of the groups involved that fends off any opportunities to dig deeper than surface level. The movie jumps around without any rhyme or reason making the whole thing seem disjointed, and there’s a weird montage of nothing in the middle of the movie on Frank Sinatra’s “When I Was 17” where I felt like my skin was going to cringe. my body. One of the biggest problems is that none of these bands knew how to talk to reporters, so there’s a lot of people watching Julian Casablancas of The Strokes give what looks like the worst interview you’ve ever seen, only to being followed by an interview is somehow even worse. It’s not his fault though, as the filmmakers could have shown one to illustrate the whole bit “these guys had no idea how to talk to reporters” and it was done, but it happens over and over and over yet to the point where people in these groups seem like total idiots.

The only character that ends up coming out clean is Karen O, who gets a real narrative thread that shows her humble origins playing open mic parties to become one of the most iconic front women of all time. The movie is at its best when it lets Ms. O talk about how it was different for her in that scene, and all the issues that come with being a woman in rock and roll, and that is really the only interesting thing this movie has to do. say. The rest is just stock footage of bratty in their twenties doing bratty things. The TV on radio takes about three minutes before the film reverts to more awful Strokes interviews. The segment on James Murphy’s descent into dance music and the formation of LCD Soundsystem starts to show promise but goes off the rails with a montage that depicts “James taking ecstasy for the first time and falling in love with dance music” . It’s the kind of embarrassment that makes your whole body feel like a fist. It’s not really Murphy’s fault, but the movies make him look like an obnoxious hipster and, well, yeah, he probably has a bit of that in him, but he’s always seemed more down to earth in other interviews and media.

The tone of the movie basically says, “IS IT NOT COOL?!?!?!” and the main takeaway is that it would be much cooler if we got to know one of these people. Julian Casablancas is as close as this thing gets to a main character, and we get about 30 seconds of his upbringing as a rich kid and his shitty dad (a modeling management mogul) before the movie cuts to another thing. It’s like “Wait! That was really interesting! and then off we go. Replaced by innocuous footage of world tours, overly long clips of live performances and the other b-roll footage you get in documentaries Music documentaries are hard enough to screw up, so it’s pretty shocking how directors Will Lovelace and Dylan Southern managed to make such an exciting time in rock music look so bland. this thing and the end result looks more like a high school kid’s YouTube compilation video than a feature film.

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