“Big Star”: A Story of a Band You've Heard, Even if You Haven't Heard Of

The band Big Star was a prime example of a “critic's darling”: Rock critics adored it, but the group sold very few records, and you probably think you don't know any of its music. Drew DeNicola and Olivia Mori's documentary may not change that, but it's still a fitting tribute to the life (and afterlife) of the band. In addition to focusing on members Alex Chilton and Chris Bell, the movie considers how critics scrambled to heap praise on them; the one-time-only Rock Writers Convention in 1973 was mostly just an excuse to see a Big Star concert. The convention itself could be spun off into its own documentary, as could the critical establishment of the 1970s — how has Lester Bangs not gotten the doc treatment yet? — but the movie does a good job of putting Big Star into the context of its era, as well as exploring its legacy. Many of the future critics' darlings who were inspired by Big Star sing the band's praises, such as R.E.M.'s Mike Mills — though noted Alex Chilton acolyte Paul Westerberg is conspicuously absent. Another part of its legacy is the That '70s Show's theme (actually Cheap Trick covering a Big Star tune). See, you know the music!

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