Another night at the Kiss or Kill Club, from the documentary, IN HEAVEN THERE IS NO BEER, directed by David Palamaro for Modern Distributors.

In Heaven There Is No Beer (2012, David Palamaro)

Watch In Heaven There Is No Beer with a notebook handy, because you’re going to want to write down some of the band names. A lot of them. And waiting for the end credits doesn’t help unless you’re quick with the pause button.

Beer is the story of the Kiss or Kill “club,” which was a weekly music event in L.A. in the mid–2000s. Mid-aughts, not 2050s. While he doesn’t draw attention to his participation, director Palamaro was in one of the bands playing. Occasionally he’ll pop up in interview footage to bridge a couple ideas, but it’s always sparing and always on target.

The documentary is a gentle tragedy–none of the wronged people refused Palamaro an interview–as the club gets more and more popular, then thing start to fall apart. The causes for its decline are shockingly mundane but seem very dramatic as the viewer has spent about an hour with the people describing these personally difficult periods. Palamaro never comes down on one side or another and never really encourages the viewer to place blame either. The film’s lucky to have interviewees with a good sense of perspective.

Palaramo mixes historical footage, music videos, modern interviews. He shows how L.A. needed this kind of communal event, where bands supported one another–it’s sort of shocking to see how communal it got, with band members in the audience for the fellows, hanging out with fans.

The documentary’s outstanding; Palaramo guides a narrative but allows seepage.

3.5/4★★★½

CREDITS

Written, produced, photographed and directed by David Palamaro; edited by Curtis Bisel, Rebecca Gillaspie, Rick Levy, Patrick Nagy, Palamaro, Erik Rosenbluh and Mike Schnee; released by Modern Distributors.

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