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"Now that I'm living up in God knows where
As a young refugee of the Chernobyl disaster, Eugene Hütz grew up throughout the expanse of the Ukrainian diaspora. Eventually, he and his family made it to the U.S. and finally to New York, where he did what many young transplants to the big city do: he started a punk band. His exposure to such divergent cultures meant, though, that this wasn't your average three-chord power trio. Gogol Bordello, a mash-up of style and culture; brings the accordion, violin, and multi-lingual vocals to the punk stage. They're as noisy and energetic a band as you'll find. Since their inception, Gogol Bordello has taken the world by storm, developing a considerable cult following, while staying true to the Gypsy esthetic they got in the game with. Gogol Bordello Non-Stop chronicles the band's progression through interviews and live footage, providing an excellent look at one of the most unique bands of the past decade.
Eugene Hütz is a great frontman and a fantastic interview. He dominates Gogol Bordello Non-Stop as much as he dominates the stage. His energy and humor are clear in the interview, but are best expressed in the fury of live performances. He knows exactly the atmosphere he wants to create at the show, knows exactly how to get it, and has assembled an ensemble of musicians (mostly immigrants themselves) with the skill and the stamina to keep up with him. The result is a wild, sweaty affair; Gogol Bordello is alive in a way that few bands are. Hütz distills his huge web of influences into a music best described as Gypsy Punk.
Margarita Jimeno's documentary doesn't carry an overall narrative, nor is there anything particularly revelatory heard. Instead, its montage of interviews and live footage gives us a fairly simple profile of the band, showing us a little bit of what makes the musicians tick and how intense their shows can be. Were Hütz not such a compelling figure, it would be easy to call Gogol Bordello Non-Stop a fluff piece. The singer is a force of nature, though; snide and hilarious, he is powerful on stage and off, and is always a fun listen. Even if his thick, Ukrainian-accented voice can by no means be called pretty, it is so full of emotion and life that it doesn't matter at all.
Lorber has done very well with their release of Gogol Bordello Non-Stop, with excellent technical details and a host of extras. The anamorphic image looks great and, though it utilizes a decade's worth of archival footage from countless sources, there is a consistency to the image that you don't always find. Some of the footage is certainly grainy, but it never becomes unwatchable and the transfer itself is nearly perfect. A DVD for a band like this would be worthless without a good sound mix, and though it's only a stereo mix, it still delivers; both speakers and the subwoofer get good workouts. Gogol Bordello is nothing if not loud, so turn it up, the mix handles it fine. The extra features are all of one kind, but there is a ton, so no complaints from me. They come under two headings, Deleted Scenes and Extra Footage, but it's all the same. Around an hour of more interviews and live footage is more of what makes the film so good.
Fans of Gogol Bordello will find exactly what they're looking for in Gogol Bordello Non-Stop. If you've never heard of the band, though, this is a perfect place to start.
Not guilty. Hoptza!
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Koch Lorber
• Deleted Scenes
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