The bottled chaos that once was Bobby Liebling and the band Pentagram did not age well.
Nobody can say co-directors Don Argott and Demian Fenton did not give this film their best effort. Argott directed the modest ultra-indie success “The Art of the Steal” and this film appeals to about the same fraction of the US audience. A small fraction. On the other hand, simply tracking down Pentagram lead man Bobby Liebling after decades of complete obscurity is a feat all by itself. Even so, this film fails to come to boil.
There is not enough good archival footage of Pentagram to buck up the slow periods; the slow periods being the times when Bobby is being interviewed. This wild bunch had to have some energy at one time; it is a pity there is so little displayed in this film.
To the film’s credit, and in testimony to the dark spirit of the Pentagram name, it starts with the initial meeting, interview and crack smoking with Bobby. Crack addict Bobby has lived as a hermit in his parent’s basement for several decades. Not only has he lived with no means of support and almost entirely without any outside contact, he has continuously used/abused drugs the entire time.
The fact that he did this with the support, or, at least, with the acceptance, of his educated upper-middle parents who live upstairs is the most amazing part of the film. His father is a retired Department of Defense chief strategist who served several presidents, including Nixon. He was one of the highest-ranking “insiders” inside the Washington beltway. Both parents are interviewed extensively in the film and appear normal. You be the judge.
Nixon defense chief retires to provide three decades of crack for heavy metal son? What is wrong with this picture? Maybe nothing, which makes the film all the better. Perhaps Pentagram’s blood curdling heavy metal shows were not horror shows but sit-coms modeled on Bobby’s home life.
The first part of the interview has him smoking crack while debating the terms of the contract with his newfound fan-turned-manager Sean “Pellet” Pelletier. Sean is more than just a fan; he is the person who saved Bobby’s life. As Bobby is ranting and smoking, he displays his arm, under filthy bandages, which is more or less an open wound. His face is covered with scabs and sores. Although Bobby might have lived a while longer as a vegetable in his parents’ care, it is Pelletier who appears to have turned back the Grim Reaper from the Pentagram front man’s door.
Talking softly and slowly and repeating every six or eight words, Pelletier strikes a deal with Bobby and the devils inside him. He signs a contract with Bobby that states that Pelletier will give up everything he owns to stage a comeback reunion concert for Bobby and the rest of Pentagram. In return, Bobby will give up smoking crack and will stop using drugs of any kind.
The collateral is Bobby’s record collection, which is the only thing of value left in his trash-filled dumpster of a basement room. Make no mistake, the record collection itself is phenomenal, there could be a thousand albums there. Old school vinyl. Not a small thing.
In the end, as Bobby nears the finish line, the transformation truly is amazing. He has changed from a real life zombie into an actual person. Although still dazed, he stands and walks and faces the challenge of his life as the big concert date approaches.
The concert was scheduled for the famous / infamous Webster Hall in the bowels of Gotham. The place where reputations were made and broken. Where names were made and forgotten. Where people went and never found their way home afterward.
Finding he can walk, Bobby falls in love. After a while and asks the lucky thing to marry him. However, the course of true love never runs smoothly, especially when someone has half his or her brain cells in permanently suspended animation.
This film will be most interesting to persons who have listened to a lot of Pentagram’s work, because there is not a lot of it in this film. Although there is some archival footage of drunken, spaced out hijinks that buoys up the stasis the film is slow unless the viewer is able to read between the lines and fill in the bottled chaos that once was Bobby Leibling and the band Pentagram.
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Directed By: Don Argott, Demian Fenton
Featuring: Bobby Liebling and Sean Pelletier
Release Date: March 2, 2012
MPAA: Not Rated
Running Time: 91 Minutes
Color: Color / Black and White