|'does not feel as though it has much to offer to the Cobain story that hasn't been covered elsewhere'|
Ignored so far in the awards race, Cobain: Montage Of Heck is an interesting case of a documentary that does something new, but does not really bring much new to the table which it covers.
Like seemingly every documentary-maker going, Brett Morgen searches for what it is that his film will have to mark it out from the talking heads crowd. Whether it is drone footage, or never-seen-before archive, or access to something new, or a significant development in the form, there is a pressure within the Documentary arena at the moment to do something beyond what a.n.other film-maker could achieve (see: conceptual projects such as Leviathan, sweeping drone footage in pretty much everything, the dedication to meticulous archive in Asif Kapadia's Senna and Amy).
Morgen's answers here are found primarily in Montage Of Heck's hand-drawn animation (similar in use and style to Waltz With Bashir's), which occasionally looks gorgeous, and the involvement of members of Kurt Cobain's friends and family, some of whom have previously been reticent to speak to other authors. Courtney Love is here, as is Krist Novoselic, and Cobain's daughter, Frances Bean Cobain, has an Executive Producer credit.
With all that though, Morgen does not feel like he has much to offer to the Cobain story that hasn't been covered in, say, Charles R. Cross' excellent Heavier Than Heaven, published in 2001, or Cobain's own Journals, published in 2003 and used on screen often here. It's a fair point that this may be the first time many people have seen some of this information in a film, but it is unlikely to be the first time Rock fans, and Nirvana fans in particular, have had any exposure to this material.
Of somewhat particular disappointment is the fact that, despite the celebratory 'just play the hits' nature of the first half, Morgen ends up at the point of every other Cobain chronicler (except, arguably, Cross), by wondering whether it was all Love's fault. Cobain's life is, of course, defined by its tragic end, but it does feel that in order to produce something truly new on the matter, observers need to somehow move past that, to find focus within music and character which is not inherently tied to tragedy by their own foreshadowing. In a lengthy one-hundred and forty-five minutes, the director does not really get there, leaving a new-look film with old information; fine if you're unfamiliar to this whole story, a little disappointing if you're a fan.