DIED YOUNG, STAYED PRETTY
By Andrea Warner
2 stars (out of 5)
Rock ’n’ roll has been a prime benefactor of the blurred line between advertising and art. Slapping a band’s logo on every blank surface has given way to an underground rock-poster scene, haphazardly taking shape over the last few decades and gaining momentum, as documented in Eileen Yaghoobian’s uneven directorial debut, Died Young, Stayed Pretty.
Pretty is Yaghoobian’s labour of love (she’s also the editor, cinematographer, and producer), and, unfortunately, her inability to be objective suffocates this doc. It’s a meandering mess from start to finish, but one that’s partly salvaged because her subjects are themselves a merry band of wandering misfits.
Yaghoobian’s desire to create a full-fledged insider’s guide to rock-poster artists (a kooky, insufferable, and fascinating bunch) is admirable. She offers interviews with a few artists, allowing them ample footage to talk about what motivates them, their processes, and how they fell into this unusual medium.
Other artists seem to have wandered in front of the camera by accident. One man makes a World Trade Center joke while flicking a lamp on and off (for what feels like forever) and faux-screaming like people jumping out of the towers. To what end? To show how “subversive” he is? How provocative art can be? It falls flat, and Yanghoobian does her subjects and her film a disservice by failing to establish a clear narrative.
The actual poster art is a tasty treat for music lovers, but the rest of Died Young, Stayed Pretty grows old fast.