Thursday, July 17, 2008


The BLOG! Movie of the Week is Mark Brian Smith and Tony Montana's documentary Overnight, which charts the rise and fall of one Troy Duffy, who went from bartender/bouncer to Hollywood legend when his screenplay for The Boondock Saints was purchased by Harvey Weinstein of Miramax, who sweetened the deal by giving the neophyte writer the opportunity to direct the film, and also buying him the bar where he worked. Things quickly went south, as Duffy's hubris and general obnoxiousness alienated the studio, who put the film in "turnaround," leaving Duffy to scramble for a deal that gave him half of the original budget and no home video rights.

Meanwhile, his awful rock band, the Brood (not to be confused with the all-girl garage band of the same name) scores a record deal with Atlantic Records. Unfortunately, the same arrogance and self-aggrandizement that sabotaged the movie deal leads to Duffy blowing the record deal as well, as the band's CD (Release the Hounds, under the new band name Boondock Saints) sells only 690 copies, and the band gets dropped like a bad habit. Overnight is like watching a trainwreck in slow motion, a trainwreck where the conductor is a foul-mouthed, paranoid, bullying blowhard.

I lived in Massachusetts for many years, and worked in the rock n' roll business for almost as long, so I instantly recognized Boston-bred Duffy as a particularly noxious variation on a couple of archetypes: The Rock Fascist, usually a guitar player, who overrules every other guy in the band, because he knows it all; and The Masshole, a species unique to the Commonwealth, with the characteristic traits of racism, sexism, anti-semitism, and alcoholism.

Ironically, The Boondock Saints has become a cult film (one critic called it a movie "for those who find Quentin Tarantino too cerebral"), doing very well on DVD, but as I mentioned, Duffy failed to secure any backend on the Home Video rights, so he did not get a penny beyond his original deal. The closing montage shows Duffy's friends (including the filmmakers) and bandmates all working menial jobs. Meanwhile, Duffy has persevered, apparently none the wiser for his ordeal (for which he seems to think himself blameless), and is threatening to make Boondock Saints 2.

Fascinating, horrifying, and appalling, while remaining compellingly watchable, Overnight is one of the best documentaries ever made about the entertainment business. Duffy had the unprecendented opportunity of having both a movie and a record deal, but he blew it in epic fashion. The documentary ends with a quote from celebrity biographer and fellow pariah Albert Goldman:

"No man is really changed by success. What happens is that success works on the man's personality like a truth drug, bringing him out of the closet and revealing what was always inside his head."

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