Kurt Cobain Biopic in the Works…WHY?

Amy Dupcak :: Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010 1:00 pm

We all knew it was coming someday…a Kurt Cobain biopic that cements his legacy in the annals of Hollywood. But anyone who knows anything about Cobain should know that therein lies a serious irony: Cobain was as far removed from the likes of Hollywood as any spotlit musician could be. He didn’t ride in limos or mingle on the red carpet, and he probably would have run screaming from Courtney if he’d been around for her plastic surgery transformations. But just like in life, Cobain’s fame isn’t really up to him, and he certainly has no say when it came to Courtney publishing his private journals, announcing his supposed anger toward Dave Grohl, or these plans to portray his complexities via Hollywood actor.

Rumors have been circulating about the actor who will step into the Converse and douse his head in bleach, the best of which, I suppose, is Ewan McGregor, the huh? of which is Ryan Gosling, and the worst of which is Robert Pattinson. I can only imagine Kurt rising from the ashes like Frances Farmer to have his revenge on Hollywood for such a serious offense. The truth of the matter is that nobody can accurately play Kurt Cobain, much the way nobody can play John Lennon. And anyone who thinks that hardcore Nirvana fans want to watch some actor lip sync to “Smells like Teen Spirit,” pretend to shoot heroin, and slip into the iconic white sunglasses is completely misguided.

So, Adam Rosenberg of MTV, you are wrong when you say, “The next hope for Nirvana fans who would like to see the fallen musician immortalized on the big screen is an untitled biopic that is said to be based largely on Heavier Than Heaven,” because true Nirvana fans don’t need or want to see Cobain immortalized this way, and true Nirvana fans also know that Cross’s biography, especially the “imagined” last days of Kurt, was 100% Courtney-approved. Love her or hate her, Courtney’s on a mission to restore her tarnished image, and milking her three-year-marriage to Cobain for all it was worth is back to being her best option.

But, okay, here are the facts, or rather rumors: David Fincher was originally rumored to direct the film, and then it was Marc Forster, but now it’s supposedly being handled by Oren Moverman, who directed The Messenger (great…). And the script is being handled by David Benioff, who supposedly isn’t leaning as much on Heavier Than Heaven as most initially thought. Moverman said, “That book has a lot of information, so, yeah, it’s definitely a great resource. But a lot of [the script] is also based on David Benioff’s research and creative flourishes,” whatever that means. The more ridiculous aspect of the project, though, is Courtney wanting Scarlett Johansson to play her. Do I need to point out their obvious physical differences?

Here’s my solution to the Cobain biopic, which is sure to be a disaster: why not a film starring no-name actor/musicians and directed by someone like Penelope Spheeris, Larry Clark, or Shane Meadows about the early days of Nirvana? Take us from their beginnings in Aberdeen to the recording of Bleach for only 600 bucks through their tour with Tad in a busted van, to Kathleen Hanna scrawling “Kurt Smells Like Teen Spirit” on the wall, and then finally to the studio with Butch Vig when ‘Kurt’s’ squeezing a dog toy during the recording of “Drain You,” and then end the film on the day of Nevermind’s release, when ‘Kurt’ is still sleeping in his car, dreaming about the MTV show he will soon play. See, if Courtney were smart, she would realize that this is some of the most important and lesser known material, and she would realize that keeping her role in Kurt’s life (and his death) out of it could possibly redeem her from coming across as the money-fame-hungry dragon that she is. Oops, did I just write that?

Without further ado, here’s a Nirvana/Cobain Bibliography to “sustain you” while you wait for the damn biopic:

With The Lights Out, Nirvana: not only is it a great way to hear Nirvana B-sides, rarities, demos, live stuff and alternate recordings (although it takes away the fun of finding the Outcesticides and other bootlegs), but the boxset also features a DVD that features footage from 1988 in Aberdeen, during some of the band’s first shows. Also “Seasons in the Sun,” where Kurt plays drums and sings, is amazing.

Live Tonight Sold Out!, Nirvana: now this one contains a lot of great footage, and also some really comical interviews of the band, like the one where Kurt has his jacket pulled up over his head, and another from his stint wearing a yellow ballgown on MTV’sHeadbanger’s Ball.

Nirvana Unplugged in New York, Nirvana: probably the most profound of the Unplugged Series (although I also happen to love Alice in Chains’). If you haven’t already seen this, what are you doing?

Heavier Than Heaven, by Charles R. Cross: a lengthy and well-researched biography of Cobain written in 2001, which comes in handy if you’re planning a pilgrimage to Washington and want to hit all of his former dwellings (like I did!).

Last Days, Gus van Sant: an arty film that chronicles the ‘last days’ of a character named ‘Blake’ played by Michael Pitt. Although it drags a lot and is pretty awful, the perk of this film is that it doesn’t spell anything out for you; one already has to know about Cobain to understand how the world of the film represents his life. Also, Courntey appears only as a nagging voice on the telephone, which is a plus.

Kurt and Courtney, Nick Broomfield: a 1998 documentary that exposes a lot of dirt on Courtney. Whether or not you care about the murder conspiracy theory, which this film eventually tackles in full, Broomfield interviewed a plethora of note-worthy people, such as Kurt’s Aunt Mary, his best friend Dylan Carlson, one of Frances Bean’s former nannies, and an outraged Julian Cope.

About a Son, AJ Schnack: constantly moving images of a Washington backdrop set the stage for confessional audio tapes recorded by Michael Azerrad, from his multiple interviews with Cobain throughout his career. The fact that Azerrad and Cobain became confidants and that Azerrad actually had permission from Cobain to record his thoughts about fame, money, heroin, his childhood, fatherhood, and the future that he wanted for himself gives this film serious credibility, and listening to Kurt’s speaking voice, in all of its emotional ups and downs, is a haunting experience.