The Outhouse shows up at the Tribeca Film Festival to take a look at some of the most highly-anticipated independent films coming down the pike. This time out: God Bless Ozzy Osbourne!
Recently, Staff Writer Royal Nonesuch purchased a package of tickets to films screening at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York. This is the fourth of his reports from the festival.
GOD BLESS OZZY OSBOURNE
Directed by Mike Fleiss and Mike Piscitelli
Documentary 91 min.
"There are a few ways to come into the world, and a lot of fucked-up ways to go out." --Ozzy Osbourne
It's one thing to know a lot about a subject. It's another thing entirely to actually see what you know, as it happened. It's what makes film, documentary film in particular, so powerful and effectivly expressive. We all know that as the original singer for heavy metal pioneers Black Sabbath, and as a solo artist, Ozzy has been one of the biggest rock stars in the world for decades. We also know that Ozzy Osbourne is an addict who repeatedly reached rock bottom before digging even deeper. That much is general knowledge to music fans. His drunken exploits and sold out arena rock shows have been written about reported on so much they're basically the stuff of legend. There's very little that can be said about the man nowadays that hasn't already been said by someone else before. The difference is in the "what," but in the "how." We need to see the information in a new way.
God Bless Ozzy Osbourne is the next of what appears to be a growing trend in the "rock doc" subgenre that started with films like Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage, which premiéred at last year's Tribeca Film Festival. Much like the Rush doc, Ozzy is extensive in scope and exhaustively researched. It covers not only Ozzy's career, but also his early life growing up in a bombed-out suburb of the working class factory town Birmingham, England. Rare archival footage, photographs, and documents (including an arrest record for an 18-year-old John Michael Osbourne) punctuate the storytelling and expand upon the talking head testimonials delivered by Ozzy himself, as well as his family, bandmates, friends, and management (as well as musicians like Henry Rollins and Robert Trujillo, on hand to talk about the influence Ozzy and Sabbath had on their work). These elements all combine to tell the story of a man who grew up poor and in trouble, and who gained too much fame and fortune too quickly with Black Sabbath. A best-selling rock frontman before his twenty-fifth birthday, Ozzy sold out shows and released multi-platinum records, but he also gave in to all the requisite vices of rock stardom to a frightening degree. Eventually, he loses his father, his band (his hard partying got him kicked out of Black Sabbath), his first family, and his best friend, guitarist Randy Rhodes in a matter of only a few years. Consequently, his drinking and drug abuse dominate his life in the 1980's and the 1990's. What may come as a surprise to many viewers is that when the popular reality show The Osbournes gave the world a look at Ozzy's family life, he was at the peak of his binging.
The film intercuts the tragedy and darkness of Ozzy's past with footage of who he is today. Nowadays, Ozzy is still a hard-rocking, hard-traveling heavy metal legend who performs with all the passion and bombast of his peak, but he's also stone sober, not drinking anything harder than herbal tea. He's also completely devoted to his family, in a way he never was before about five years ago (that includes his two children from his first marriage). Cutting betweent the past and the present is a good choice, as it would have been a lot to ask out of an audience to simply sit through a man's demons constantly piling up in living color for ninety minute until suddenly turning it around at the very end. The way Mikes Fleiss and Piscitelli have things arranged, we get an equal share of the two journeys of Ozzy Osbourne. We see who Ozzy was, and who he is now.
Written or Contributed by: Royal Nonesuch