New York Doll
You can't put your arms around a memory, as Johnny Thunders very eloquently put it, but you'll have the impulse to do just that after seeing this documentary portrait of New York Dolls bass player Arthur 'Killer' Kane.
Don't think you need to be a Dolls fan to appreciate Greg Whiteley's movie either. It's part of the legend that this band was ahead of its time - in the early 1970s they were punk rock before there was such a thing. But the Dolls inspired plenty of devotees - the Sex Pistols and the Clash among them - before burning out in a surplus of drugs circa 1975.
Thunders overdosed, along with drummer Jerry Nolan (and his predecessor, Billy Murcia). But David 'Buster Poindexter' Johansen survived and flourished, and so (to a lesser extent) did Sylvain Sylvain. Whatever happened Killer Kane?
Not much. As he himself puts it, 'I went from rock star to schlub on a bus'. His ex-wife is scarcely kinder: 'I got to experience being a rock star wife without any of the money', she says. Living in Los Angeles they took work as movie extras to keep a roof over their heads - the doc freeze-frames movie Innerspace to prove it.
Was Kane bitter? Watching Scrooged one night on TV, he was so shocked and shaken to see Johansen on screen he drank a bottle of schnapps, beat up his wife and threw himself out of a third storey window. As luck would have it he landed on the awning outside the entrance to the building. 'It took me a year to teach myself to walk again,' he says.
From there, the only way was up. He found God. And not just any god, but the Church of Latterday Saints. When director Whiteley found him he was working in the library of the Family History Centre with septuagenarian twins.
It's a good story, and Whiteley tells it in witty, deft strokes, pointing out the obvious irony in such an unlikely conversion without belittling either the punks or the mormons he interviews along the way.
He has a couple of twists up his sleeve too - though he can't have foreseen either when he began this documentary a couple of years ago and I'm certainly not going to reveal them here. What I will say is, Kane probably got the success he deserved, but he's more endearing for his limitations than his gifts. Whiteley might have drawn out more on Dolls' origins and Kane's background, but the upside is a short and sweet 75 minute running time and an emotionally affecting movie that will have you hugging your inner rock star.