When: Thu., March 22, 9:30 p.m. 2012
When rock stars die, they become immortal. And Better Than Something aims to beatify Jay Reatard, the cult-hero garage rocker who died of a cocaine and alcohol overdose on Jan. 13, 2010, at 29. The film's trailer makes this clear from its first quote: "He was almost like this Elvis-type figure, but angrier."
Featuring interviews conducted with Reatard mere months before he died, as well as comments from his friends and contemporaries, Better Than Something aims to provide a portrait of the artist but seems unlikely to escape the skewed perspective that comes with analyzing the life and music of the man born Jimmy Lee Lindsey Jr. Even an acknowledgement that Reatard's discography grew more taut and anxious, evolving from rough and rowdy Oblivians-inspired blasts to stinging barbs of paranoid punk-pop, is distorted by the postmortem context.
What can't be refuted, and what even Better Than Something's trailer points out, is that Jay Reatard turned brash presentation and nihilistic themes into compelling pop music. And one doesn't have to look far to find an anxiety-ridden garage band doing its best to realize—and expand upon—Reatard's visions. —Bryan C. Reed