Bittersweet Motel | Chicago Reader

Bittersweet Motel

84 minutes 2014

The multimillion-dollar jam band Phish bankrolled this chronicle of their life on the road, including a small-venue tour of Europe and a two-day-long concert, the Great Went, in Maine, which drew 70,000 fans. None of these guys has much interesting to say, and director Todd Phillips wisely shows them doing what they do best: excerpts from 23 rehearsals or performances dominate the backstage nattering, and Phillips excels with a small camera crew, concentrating on the featured player and framing his face and hands well. In one of the funnier sequences Phillips follows Trey Anastasio and company into a gun shop in Spain, where the guitarist playfully haggles with the proprietors over the price of a Magnum he fancies and strikes a few poses with the weapon, mock screaming "Freeze motherfucker!" It's about as close as Bittersweet Motel comes to cinema verite—but centered in the frame is a guy fantasizing that he's in a movie.

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