Color Me Obsessed: A Film about The Replacements

The Replacements: Positive or negative, everyone has an opinion
Greg Helgeson

"Most of the drama of the film took place offscreen. And it came from people who couldn't accept the idea of a rock documentary with no music. Or from people who insisted that I did it that way because I couldn't get the rights. People don't want to believe that I did it this way on purpose. That was my plan all along."

So said director Gorman Bechard recently about the making of his documentary Color Me Obsessed: A Film About the Replacements, which has been screening across the country. Regardless of circumstances (Replacements frontman Paul Westerberg, who is notoriously guarded with his image, did not participate in this film and, according to his manager, is working on his own film about the band), Bechard, a 52-year-old Connecticut writer and fiction filmmaker, has done something pretty original in this movie about Minneapolis's beloved rock brats. Color Me Obsessed contains not one note of the punkish noise created by Westerberg and his bandmates. Nor an inch of concert footage. Instead, "all" we get are fans, friends, critics, and rockers sitting around talking, theorizing, and, most importantly, disagreeing about the 'Mats.

Think My Dinner with Andre with about 100 guests. And some of them are pretty famous.

There's the wasted but brilliant Grant Hart (of Replacements rival Hüsker Dü), who is filmed in the graffiti-covered dressing room of Minneapolis's 7th St. Entry, where the 'Mats used to play. Another hometown musician, Jim McGuinn, laments that the Replacements kept "shooting themselves in the foot" at every turn, like when the band finally had a decent budget for a video but, since they had a clause in their contract saying they didn't have to appear in the damn things, simply aimed a camera at a speaker for all four minutes of "Bastards of Young."

There are no industry schmucks sitting in their platinum-record-decorated offices here. Color Me, shot mostly in Minnesota, sticks close to the simple, front-porch vibe that Paul and the guys grew up with.

With a $75,000 budget, Bechard shot 250 hours of film and interviewed 145 people. Every one of them has an opinion. A turning point for the band—and in the film —is the firing of genius/whack job guitarist Bob Stinson, who died too young in 1995. Former Village Voice music critic Robert Christgau says: "Fuck art. You would have kicked Bob Stinson out of your band, too!" He is challenged by writer Jim DeRogatis, who counters, "If you're in a band with Iggy Pop, you realize, yeah, this is hell to live with, but this is brilliant, and it's not gonna be brilliant without Iggy Pop." With so many voices, Color Me becomes a rock version of Rashomon, and what the film lacks in music and live footage, it more than makes up for with obsessive detail and heated debate. Who's right? Everyone.

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