Atlas Moth’ peeks inside crusty amateur metal

Atlas Moth
Sunday, 7 p.m.
Next Friday, Feb. 1, 9:30 p.m.
$6.50 general
$5.50 students/seniors
Guild Theater
Southwest Ninth and Taylor

“Atlas Moth” is an independent documentary about a metal band from Minnesota. The film – directed, edited and produced by Rolf Belgum – is a strange bird indeed. “Atlas Moth” is a sub-par version of “American Movie,” in that it’s about insane under-achieving men in the Midwest with nothing to show for their lives except angry ex-wives, beer bellies and bankruptcy charges. It falls way short of “American Movie” in consistency and quality, but it’s not a total loss.

The movie does have some redeeming qualities. Belgum has found himself a bizarre threesome to be the focus his digitally shot film.

The threesome is comprised of very lonesome, overweight and out-of-shape men in their mid to late 30s. They have been in a band called Darkhorse for five years, and are working on their first home-recorded album, called Guts B4 Glory.

The men speak of the music world and their hopes to “make it” like 13-year-old kids in a crappy punk rock band. They are totally delusional and live in an ’80s fantasy land, where hot smoking licks, pre-pubescent seventh grade lyrics and talk of playing stadiums run rampant. You just want to grab them make them cut their greasy hair and push them out of their mothers’ basements and say, “Goddamn it, you pale sorry bastards, life has passed you by while you have been sniffing glue and masturbating to Black Sabbath records for 20 years.” The Midwest also looks like hell in this movie.

Dan Cleveland is Darkhorse’s singer/lead guitarist/founder. Dan says he’s a diagnosed neurotic, but he’s most definitely a psychotic with extensive mental problems. The majority of the film takes place in his 20 sq. ft. apartment, which is as tidy as a dugout floor.

Sean Cassidy, bass player and moth enthusiast, is a creepy, overweight man who lives with his mom on a decrepit old farm. He collects atlas moths (thus the film’s title) and acts all serial killer when he compares Jesus to the moths.

Jonathan Mortenson plays drums and is an outdoor and wildlife photographer. He is the most intelligent man in the group. One would think he must be desperately lonely to hang out with a psychotic and a serial killer. Go figure.

The movie leads up to a night of rock at a venue that is actually quite famous in the indie rock scene, a little club in Minnesota called the 7th Ave Entry. They sell their homemade CDs and rock the house. They sound like a cross between Ozzy Osborne and Yes, if you can imagine such a misshaped offspring.

The film does have its problems. It was filmed and produced by an amateur and lacks consistency. On the other hand there are some cool shots in this film and the real-life characters are insane and delusional enough to keep your interest for an hour. I would recommend seeing “American Movie” if you’re hankerin’ for a documentary about total losers in the Midwest. If you are incredibly bored and you have felt the urge to join a metal band it’s your job – no, your duty – to see this film.