Film Review: ‘Cure For Pain: The Mark Sandman Story’ Places Spotlight on Great Band
CHICAGO – I can still remember when I first heard the band Morphine. It was the title track from their stellar 1993 album, “Cure For Pain,” which also serves as the title for a strong new rock doc about this underrated and underappreciated trio that’s now playing On Demand. The movie has some rough edges in terms of production and its subject’s notorious privacy makes him a difficult centerpiece but if the greatest accomplishment of “Cure For Pain: The Mark Sandman Story” is merely that it reminds viewers of the pure genius of Morphine then it’s done some good.
A two-string bass, a baritone saxophone, and a drum set. That shouldn’t be a band. But with the amazing songwriting of Mark Sandman, it became a very successful one under the name Morphine. 1992’s “Good” was a strong debut but it was 1993’s “Cure For Pain” that really sent Morphine to the stratosphere in the right circles of alternative music. You couldn’t watch “120 Minutes” or read Spin and NOT know about Morphine. “Buena,” “A Head with Wings,” “In Spite of Me,” “Thursday,” “Eleven O’Clock,” “Honey White,” “Sharks” — get thee to an iTunes or a Spotify and sample some Morphine. You’ll soon be downloading everything they’ve ever released.
|Read Brian Tallerico’s full review of “Cure For Pain: The Mark Sandman Story” in our reviews section.|
Directors Robert Bralver & David Ferino have a clear and passionate love for the band and their music. There are times where that love may have led them to believe there was more to this story than there is for the non-fans. You have to like Morphine to really get into “Cure For Pain” since, to be blunt, there isn’t much story to Mark Sandman’s life. He died WAY too young, on-stage doing what he loved, and that adds a bit of melancholy art to the proceedings but the fact is that Sandman was very private. Even in interviews, he never revealed much. And so the movie about him is stuck with the surface level its subject left for it.
To be fair, Bralver & Ferino do work hard to get beneath that surface, spending notable interview time with Sandman’s lovely wife and tragically put-upon parents, two people who have buried three of their four children (a pain that’s almost impossible to fathom). They also do an admirable job of finding colleagues who admired and still adore Morphine including Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age, Les Claypool of Primus, Mike Watt, John Medeski, and Ben Harper, who interestingly notes that music may have never really recovered from losing three of the most important voices of a generation in Mark Sandman, Jeff Buckley, and Elliott Smith.
Cure For Pain: The Mark Sandman Story
Photo credit: Gatling Pictures