Kurt & Courtney – 1998

Watching a Nick Broomfield documentary (Aileen Wuornos: The Selling of a Serial Killer, Heidi Fleiss: Hollywood Madam) makes one not just want to shower, but to scrub oneself raw like Meryl Streep did in Silkwood. Going where even the tabloids fear to tread, the controversial Kurt & Courtney could also be called Courtney and Me. Investigating the apparent suicide of grunge icon Cobain, Broomfield runs into a formidable obstacle, namely Cobain’s widow, Courtney Love. She blocked permission for him to use any of Cobain’s music and ultimately got the film yanked from the Sundance Film Festival.

Can’t really blame her, as Broomfield follows the lead of a motley crew of conspiracy theorists, grudge-carrying former boyfriends, and estranged parents who suggest that Cobain was actually murdered at Love’s behest. For those who watched bemused as Love reinvented herself as a Hollywood glamour girl, this is luridly entertaining stuff–albeit suspect. How much stock to put in S&M rocker El Duce (where does Bloomfield find these people?), who claims to have been offered money by Love to kill Cobain, and then offers to tell more if Broomfield will buy him a beer?

Broomfield paints a much more sympathetic portrait of Cobain. In the film’s most touching moment, an aunt plays a tape of a 2-year-old Cobain singing. “He’s a prettly loud little guy,” she says. These scenes will be nirvana for Cobain fans.

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