Autoluminescent: Rowland S. Howard - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Autoluminescent: Rowland S. Howard Reviews

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½ July 20, 2012
Less a biopic than a moving look at the artistic personality and musical career of former Birthday Party guitarist Rowland S. Howard who died of liver cancer in 2009. Although I wished for more music and fewer talking heads, I came away with a greater feel for the artist with whom I had only intersected on-and-off over the years (buying a Birthday Party comp in the late 80s as well as the first These Immortal Souls LP and the Nikki Sudden collaboration CD -- long since stolen, loving Wings of Desire, and finally seeing the man solo at the Punter's Club here in his hometown of Melbourne in 2001). As you would expect, there is a vein of sadness here, when heroin is involved, but things were looking up when death struck. Time to revisit his music.
½ February 15, 2012
Overall this is quite good, but it could have done with a lot more music and a little less of a TV special feel in the production. That said, the interspersion of Howard reading his poetry (or maybe passages from his novel?) over haunting images, and the quality of the talking heads (so much Nick Cave!) raise this a little above its otherwise conventional doco format.
November 14, 2011
A beautiful collaboration, crafted with a lot of love and a scarcity of bullshit. Rowland's light shining through the darkness.
November 4, 2011
A beautiful, insightful, raw and sad film. Amongst the very best music documentaries I have seen.
September 20, 2011
From Nick Cave, whose cover of Howard's 'Shivers' is perhaps the best known of the subject's works, Lydia Lunch, Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore, Henry Rollins and Wim Wenders (who gave Howard's band Crime and the City Solution feature billing in his 1986 portrait of Berlin, Wings of Desire) and a host of others, we get a holistic portrait of the musician's web of influence. Many artists dismiss their most popular works, but with Howard there is a certain justification for not feeling connected anymore with 'Shivers', a song he sarcastically wrote at the age of 15 as a commentary on schoolyard crushes ("I've been contemplating suicide/But it doesn't really suit my style"). For most that would be enough to rest their laurels on, right next to a series of expensive collectible guitars, but Lowenstein depicts a driven artist who has never stopped searching for ways to perfect his sound. Lowenstein's documentary doesn't simply summarise Howard's career but quantifies the impact of it.

Rating: Four stars

ARTSHUB

From the atmospheric opening credits it was clear that Lowenstein was taking as much of a poetic approach to his subject as that of a compiler of information. The chronology of Howard's life was interspersed periodically with more lyrical passages, which served as backdrop to readings from his as yet unpublished novel Etceteracide. Read by Howard's friend and band mate JP Shilo, who also provided the spooky incidental music, these passages were a true scoop, and for most of the audience the first glimpse of a heretofore unknown side to the guitarist's creative output. Thematically, the novel appears to be a melange of science fiction concepts, Burroughs-esque grotesque and thinly veiled autobiography.

Visually and sonically, Autoluminescent was sumptuous and polished, with the music remaining the focus throughout. Refreshingly, the bulk of the film consisted of archival interviews with Howard himself. Some of this footage was only unearthed very recently, so the director made the very wise choice to replace some of the more conventional second-hand testaments from fellow musicians and admirers, minimising the often cringeworthy "Bono-effect".

Mess & Noise
September 17, 2011
Looks amazing. How can you not be in awe of this man.The trailer captures the darkness and enigma which was Roland Howard
September 17, 2011
Please make this movie available in Denmark!
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