Hit So Hard: The Life and Near Death Story of Drummer Patty SchemelOverview -
Patty Schemel, the hard hitting drummer of Courtney Love's seminal rock band Hole, is not only a master of the sticks, but a true survivor. After growing up as an outsider near Seattle, she shot to stardom in the early 90's and was engulfed by the music scene. Patty casually documented her life as a rock star – at band practice, on the road, backstage, and in front of millions of people. She captured rare, precious moments behind the scenes with Hole and Kurt Cobain and the intense highs and lows of these dynamic relationships, often shaped by an addiction that consumed...and almost killed her.
Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take
'Hit So Hard: The Life and Near Death Story of Patty Schemel' is a story we have heard before time and time again, where a famous musician struggles with an intense drug addiction. However, with this one, we get a much closer look at Patty Schemel in her downfall as she personally had a small video recorder with her and filmed herself and bandmates during one of her rock tours. The results pack a powerful punch and might hit close to home with people who have dealt with a loved one in a chaotic drug addiction.
Patty Schemel is a female drummer who rose to stardom by drumming for Courtney Love's band, Hole. Schemel toured and recorded with Hole for around six years before she left the band. During her tenure with Hole, Schemel became addicted to heroine and began missing performances, shoots, and videos. During this time, Schemel publicly announced to Rolling Stone Magazine that she was gay. Another detail, she refused to be a part of Kurt Cobain's drug intervention, as she thought she would be hypocritical, as she was strung out on drugs as well.
After leaving Hole in 1998, Schemel started using crack-cocaine, became addicted to that drug, and was homeless for a period of time. When she called Courtney up asking for money, Courtney agreed to support her, but only if she went to rehab. Well, Schemel went to an intense rehab and has been sober since, and is currently drumming again for various indie rock bands. Not only that, she gives drum lessons as well as owns a dog day-care center.
Like so many times before, we get a front row seat to a famous rock musician who hits rock bottom and then slowly heads towards the light. It's unfortunate though, because Schemel could've been a household name today if it wasn't for her personal demons and addiction that burned every bridge with her bandmates, family, and business partners. But what is so interesting about this particular documentary by P. David Ebersole, is that instead of a third party filming constant interviews, we have the actual subject's personal home movies made while on tour during this horrific time in her life. And Ebersole intercuts with precision these precious and scary moments with new interviews with everyone involved.
It was great to see unseen footage of Kurt Cobain and Courtney with their child as a happy family along with some of the more tragic footage as we see Schemel slip further and further into her addiction. The interviews with the entire band and Patty herself give some great insight into what went on during her time with the band and while she might not be a role model for future young female drummers, it is definitely a hard lesson learned. One that might hopefully never happen again with future musicians.
'Hit So Hard: The Life and Near Death Story of Patty Schemel' comes with a below average 1080p HD transfer and is presented in 1.78:1 aspect ratio. When you look at the home video footage from the early to mid-90s, the picture has tons of problems and has not been cleaned up. There is tons of blurry video, and the colors are all over the place, bleeding everywhere. There is hardly any vivid detail or depth to it.
When the interview footage is presented, which is present day, things look a bit better, but is still not up to par with a good HD transfer. The picture in the interviews is very soft and doesn't give off extreme detail with faces or clothing. However, the colors are well saturated here.This video presentation doesn't scream HD like it should.
This release comes with a decent lossless DTS-HD 5.1 audio mix and does the job for a documentary. However, being a rock music documentary, I expected more from this. Most of the film is comprised of talking head interviews with scenes from Schemel's home videos while on tour. These interviews provide crystal clear dialogue with no evidence of pops, cracks, or hissing.
However, with the home video scenes, the speakers tend to get more lively with the live music. The bass kicks in from time to time, but this is all short lived, as each scene from Schemel's home movies is quickly cut in by someone talking and we never get a good moment with the music. However, the fidelity is great and the sound overall is good. I just wish there was an extra push with this being a rock n roll documentary.
- Audio Commentary with Patty Schemel and P. David Ebersole -Patty and David provide commentary as they both go into the production of the film and how it was all spliced together with the homemade footage and interviews. Patty provides more insights, while David sticks with the fly on the wall perspective of things.
- Patty's Home Movies (SD, 64 mins) - Here we have over an hour of more tour footage from Patty's own video camera, which shows us tour footage and rare behind the scenes clips. This is worth watching if you're a fan of the band.
- Reunion of Classic Hole Lineup Q&A (SD, 10 mins) - Here is a new Q&A with the entire band, Hole, and the director of the film, Ebersole. This is entertaining enough, but the video and audio seemed to be a bit off.
- Hole Makes A Fan A Star (SD, 8 mins) - Here is an interview with Elizabeth Mann who was pulled up on stage by Courtney Love back in 1995 when she was 15.
- Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2 mins) - Trailer for the film.
This is a story we have seen time and time before, but with 'Hit So Hard,' we have a closer look at someone hitting rock bottom in the music industry. Schemel is charming and fun to listen to, even though at times her stories are very depressing. This is a great look into the world of rock n roll and the effects of drug addiction. The video and audio presentations are disappointing, but the extras are fairly decent. If you're a fan of rock n roll documentaries or fans of Hole and Nirvana, I would suggest renting this first before purchasing.
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