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Jun 23rd 2005

‘new york doll’ movie review

my wife and i saw “new york doll” at the LA film festival on saturday night in the directors guild of america theater. the 77-minute film is a documentary about a punk rock bassist from the 70s, arthur “killer” kane. his band, the new york dolls, broke up after a few years, though they were influential enough to change the entire course of popular music, influencing bands that many of my friends and i listen to, like the sex pistols, the clash, and others.

though “killer” tasted the good life as a rock star and pop icon, he never returned to anything near his former level of fame or wealth. then in 1989, i think, he hit rock bottom, jumped out a window, and survived. during his recovery he sees a book of mormon advertisement on tv and (the rest is history) eventually joins the LDS church.

new york doll arthur killer kane movie picture

a young film school grad, greg whiteley, meets him through church, and they become friends. in the spring of 2004, whiteley asks if he can follow him around with a camera. he follows kane to the LA temple, where the punk rocker works at the family history library. he follows kane to england, where the NY dolls play a reunion show at morrissey’s meltdown festival, and arthur fulfills his dream of playing with the dolls again and reconciling with his bandmates including david johansen (aka buster poindexter). ironically, the first LA showing of the film was exactly one year to the day (18 june) of the reunion show that comprises the documentary’s climactic moment.

let’s not mince words here, the movie is one of the best films i have seen in my entire life. you probably don’t understand how that can be yet, but it is. i really can’t give away the ending. it is full of choice scenes and hilarious moments resulting from the collision of two very peculiar lifestyles in the life of one man whom we came to love for his innocence and his simplicity. arthur kane makes this one of the most heartwarming films i’ve ever seen. the timing of the film was perfect and must be the result of either amazing luck or divine providence, and i am inclined to believe it is the latter.

it was also very interesting for me personally since my baptism was (on a much smaller scale) a collision of that wacky punk rock world and LDS culture. the crowd at the film festival showing was awesome. there were old punk-rock types, clean-cut mormon types, and greasy, overtanned hollywood types. this guy was standing behind us in line. the associate producer walked right in front of us as we were waiting to get into the theater. we sat two rows behind a major financier of the movie. we sat a couple rows behind arthur’s bishop and his family. apparently morrissey was also there, but i didn’t see him.

when I bought the tickets, my wife was a little apprehensive. she loves movies, but we usually don’t spend so much to see them (especially ones that aren’t chick flicks or star her #1 heartthrob, johnny depp). when we walked out of the theater on saturday night, though, we both realized we had spent our money well. “new york doll” falls into the elite category of movies that is worth well more than the price of admission.

read other (better?) reviews here:

indieWIRE’s email interview with greg whiteley

sundance’s review

new york doll film premieres at sundance

new york doll movie review by adam mast

movie review: new york doll documentary — by eric snider

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