In today’s age of social media we regulars love to think that we know celebrities as we have read their tweets, seen their stories on Instagram and watched videos or pictures captured by the media. What we don’t want to admit is that all of this is just what they want us to see. It is all set up or filtered and is not even close to real life. In this world of 24/7 access, we get much less of that than we believe. So when something like Danny Cohen’s film comes along it is a rare thing. An artist who allows us not only insight into her life and creative process but also the very thoughts running through her brain. Good and bad.
Aussie singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett released her debut album in 2012. Since then, despite her lack of interest in self-promotion, her star has risen. Barnett has been nominated for multiple Grammy, Brit Awards, ARIA awards, and has been the musical guest on Saturday Night Live. People are digging what she is singing about and selling. Being shy, wary of granting interviews to the press and disliking any kind of attention are not the usual qualities of a musician. Yet all of this has made many turn towards the music of Barnett. Her loves, losses and self-doubts are all out there for us to listen and relate to.
Anonymous Club is a documentary about the life of a musician. Filmed over the course of three years, this music doc separates itself from the others by not only giving us insight into the life of the artist but having it come totally from her point of view. While Danny Cohen is listed as the director of this film, it is a film which was made by Courtney Barnett herself.
The film was shot on 16 mm while Barnett was on a world tour in support of her album, Tell Me How You Really Feel. Barnett records her innermost thoughts each day on a dictaphone. The subjects she covers range from how she writes her songs to her mental health. Barnett has struggled with her mental health dealing with crippling depression. We see the ups and downs of being on tour. It is not all glamour, folks. Because of the illusion of anonymity, Barnett is incredibly frank in what she divulges on the tape. She shares plenty.
Fame is something most of us have craved at one time or another but that is because we have never really thought about it. It is awful. Full of sacrifices and loss of privacy. Often not worth the money you make.
Because of the lyrics of her songs which lay bare her mental health struggles, Barnett has become someone who fans relate to. See as one of their own. A recluse who communicates with the outside world through her music. How her music helps her (and many others) on the road to healing.
The doc is as quiet as its subject. Yet it manages to say plenty. We see her suffering from imposter’s syndrome, how someone who is incredibly introverted can get up on stage and sing about her innermost thoughts. This is very much like listening to her therapy sessions. It is that intimate. It will resonate with anyone who knows the struggle she speaks of which is millions of people.