A dozen years after his death by suicide, Kurt Cobain remains a fascinating figure. Filmmaker AJ Schnack is the latest to weigh in with the collage-like nonfiction work "Kurt Cobain About a Son." In no way an introduction to Cobain or the definitive word on the iconoclastic artist, the film will likely appeal to the type of completist who covets alternative takes of previously released songs or collections of obscure B-sides.
Culled from 25 hours of audio interviews with Cobain conducted in 1993 by journalist Michael Azerrad for his book "Come as You Are: The Story of Nirvana," Schnack matches the self-reflective, often contradictory words of the late musician to vibrant, 35-millimeter images created by director of photography Wyatt Troll and stark black-and-white performance stills by photographer Charles Peterson.
Schnack structures the conversations around three cities in Washington state where Cobain lived -- Aberdeen, Olympia, Seattle -- forming a kind of stream-of-consciousness biography. There's nothing particularly revelatory about the interviews recorded over a two-month span, but there's an intimate quality that gives the impression you're listening to a private conversation, which, in a sense, you are.
What is most compelling is hearing the various stances Cobain takes in talking about himself. Someone who always seemed uncomfortable in his own skin, he spent most of his youth searching for an authentic self, and the conversations with Azerrad present a man tired of that struggle, yet fervently on guard about the way he is perceived. Mellow when reminiscing about childhood -- the good and the bad (mostly bad) -- he becomes progressively more agitated and assertive as the discussion moves toward the Nirvana years and his relationship with the press, especially pertaining to his drug use and marriage to Courtney Love.