April 23, 2020

SCREEN | To Be Alive – 'Beastie Boys Story' Keeps It Ill on Apple TV+

"I'd rather be a hypocrite than the same person forever."
Michael Diamond Adam Horovitz Spike Jonze | Beastie Boys Story | Apple TV+
Photo credit | Taylor Rainbolt
Simply titled a Beastie Boys Story, this filmed event dubbed "A Live Spike Jonze Documentary" experience serves as both a musical retrospective of the famed Brooklyn hip-hop trio's illustrious thirty-year career (also a companion to their Beastie Boys Book) and loving remembrance tribute for departed member Adam Yauch (aka MCA) who died of cancer in 2012.

Jonze, the innovative music video turned feature director reteams with his "Sabotage" collaborators in the now aged Brooklyn white boy rappers, Michael Diamond (aka Mike D) and Adam "Horrible" Horovitz (aka Ad-Rock), the surviving members of the legendary Beastie Boys crew. In April 2019, Diamond and Horovitz took over Kings Theatre in their hometown for their first live performance in a decade to celebrate themselves and their story of friendship.

What makes this unorthodox documentary so essential is the live element and how it informs the act of memory and nostalgia. Our subjects are so sincerely reminiscing in from of a crowd of their fans reacting in real-time to archival material of themselves. Everyone's loose, playful dynamic in addition to the self-effacing humour makes the bittersweet experience so endearing.

Michael Diamond Adam Horovitz Spike Jonze | Beastie Boys Story | Apple TV+
Oscilloscope Laboratories
There's an appealing lo-fi approach to historifying the misadventures of three Jewish rap artists through New York hip-hop history. Jonze co-wrote (along with the two Beasties), produced, and directed both the original two-man live stage show and filmed recording. All these elements ultimately make for a funny and heartfelt encapsulation of the Beastie Boys' musical evolution including the embarrassment they felt about their initial notoriety as the "Fight for Your Right" party guys.

The whole vibe fits with who the Beastie Boys were and are by acknowledging the passage of time as old men not so much reliving their heyday but remembering it. The live narration and audience reactions make the archival footage and montages pop in a way that feels like a two-hour remix of their entire discography.

It's an entirely endearing and loose chronicle of the rap group. What makes Beastie Boys Story so fresh is its unconventional live nature letting us be with Diamond, Horovitz, and Jonze in the moment to reflect on their careers, music, and younger selves. The film is much more about history than it is about music. Both diehard and casual fans should eat it up.

Beastie Boys Story is available to stream on Apple TV+.

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