South by Southwest
Over four decades, Motorhead frontman Lemmy Kilmister has registered an immeasurable impact on music history. Nearly 65, he remains the living embodiment of the rock and roll lifestyle, and this feature-length documentary tells his story, one of a hard-living rock icon who continues to enjoy the life of a man half his age.
Thankfully, there's very little explaining here of what makes Lemmy Kilmister's music---mainly as the frontman of Motorhead for several decades---so transporting. (You either feel his churning bass lines in your stomach, a perfect blend of metal and punk, or you don't, and accept our condolences.) Lemmy, the result of three years of trailing the man with a camera through concert halls and his preferred grungy L.A. environs, meanders in a very different way from his band's two-minute songs.
The first few scenes alone offer a beautifully odd portrait of a 65-year-old rock god, frying potatoes in his smallish rent-stabilized apartment, ambling down to Amoeba Records to buy a Beatles box set, and dominating a trivia game's high-score list at the Rainbow Bar and Grill.
Gush is left to a trove of celebrity fans, everyone from Ozzy Osbourne and Metallica's James Hetfield to tattoo artist Kat Von D. What emerges, carefully, is a history of Kilmister's iconoclastic pose, neck strained upward toward the mike, as well as a gentle profile in British modesty, the subject digging thoughtfully into his own drug-fueled past. (Unmarried and happy to be alone, he's also a brainy collector of German war memorabilia.)
Ultimately, Lemmy stands as a snapshot as sui generis as Crumb: The man's job is simply to be Lemmy, leather-clad and fearsome, and all that entails. It's a quietly witty film, much like the dude himself.
Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out New York