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New York Doll Review


by Eric Bodrero

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This riveting and touching documentary about bass player Arthur "Killer" Kane of the crucial and ultra popular underground rock band the New York Dolls is a one-in-a-million film about having faith and believing in something while your life gets turned upside down. It's a film about hope, faith and enduring to the end.

Without going into incredible amounts of detail and without "giving anything away", we first meet Arthur while serving in the Family History Center in the Mormon church, where he is in charge of filing names, refilling paper, etc, after he'd called for a free Book of Mormon through a TV ad he saw. After meeting missionaries, getting baptized, and anchoring himself to his new found religion, Arthur continues his dream of getting back together with the band and playing again.

His wish is granted after Morrissey, then president of the New York Dolls fan club and curator of 2004's Morrissey Meltdown festival in London, makes a call to the Dolls to play a set at the festival. We continue to follow Arthur through his anxieties, prohibitions, past relationships, and his heartfelt desire to rekindle a past regrettably long gone, with a twist at the end.

I sat completely captivated by director Greg Whiteley's ability to tell a story about a surprisingly sweet and humble man and piece together one of rock history's greatest and most important rock bands' stories. One of the things that Whiteley gets clear through his interview, one of the DVD's bonus features, is that he didn't want to make another 'VH1 behind the music/where are they now" clichι-filled attempt to "catch us up on the band" or simply to entertain. This goes way beyond that, as Whiteley has a deep and profound relationship with Kane and we get to see Kane's simple, impoverished life, from his humble, tiny apartment to his mode of transportation and everything in between.

Some very significant rock figures lend their opinions and stories to the documentary throughout its seventy-eight minutes, including Morrissey, Clem Burke (Blondie), Iggy Pop, Sir Bob Geldof (Boomtown Rats), Crissy Hynde (the Pretenders), Mick Jones (the Clash, Big Audio Dynamite), Frank Infante (Blondie), Sirius Trixon (& the Motor City Bad Boys), Tony James (Generation X), Don Letts (Big Audio Dynamite), Sky Saxon (the Seeds), and members of the New York Dolls themselves including David Johansen and Sylvain Sylvain. Kane's wife Barbara is also significantly featured.

Bonus features include an interview with the movie's director Greg Whiteley, a twenty minute interview with the Pope of Mope himself, and a rather unique rendition of a Mormon hymn by David Johansen.

One does not have to be any kind of New York Dolls fan to enjoy this film, which was released in theatres in October of 2005 and was a nominee for a prestigious award at the Sundance Film Festival, although it doesn't hurt. Moz fans won't be disappointed either. If you claim to be any kind of rock fan, classic or otherwise, you owe it to yourself to watch this touching film about rock, life, faith, and believing in something when all else is seemingly lost. The film is rated PG-13 for some drug content and language.


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New York Doll

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