Autoluminescent Rowland S. Howard

  • Year:2011
  • Rating:M
  • Director:Richard Lowenstein, Lynn-Maree Milburn
  • Cast:Rowland Howard
  • Release Date:October 27, 2011
  • Distributor:Umbrella
  • Running time:109 minutes
  • Film Worth:$18.00
  • FILMINK rates movies out of $20 - the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth

A reverential access all areas celebration of a seminal local musician.

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When Rowland S. Howard died in 2009, the music industry mourned a man that Nick Cave has called, "Australia's most unique, gifted and uncompromising guitarist." Few fans of the local underground music scene would disagree. Emerging on Melbourne's seventies post-punk landscape as an artist fully formed, Howard became a pivotal figure in Australian rock for the next three decades, playing in such bands as The Young Charlatans, The Boys Next Door, The Birthday Party and These Immortal Souls.

Autoluminescent chronicles the life and often chaotic career of this seminal musician.

Having traversed Australia's rock heritage before with 2009's We're Livin' On Dog Food, Richard Lowenstein and co-director Lynn Maree Milburn deliver a measured but stirringly poetic portrait of a truly singular and often misunderstood talent with their new documentary. Footage of Howard pulverising crowds on stage with his guitar are balanced by a host of interviews, which shed light on the inner demons and emotions that drove this man's music. Among the interviewees are Nick Cave, Mick Harvey, Lydia Lunch, Thurston Moore and Wim Wenders, who speak candidly about various stages of Howard's life, including his increasing sense of alienation in The Birthday Party, the band's wild trips to London, New York and Berlin (which is where he worked with Wenders on Wings Of Desire), his devastating battle with drugs, and his tragic but endearing romantic side.

While Autoluminescent was made with the knowledge of Howard's serious illness (he was diagnosed with liver cancer just prior to the documentary's conception), the artist's death never looms large. His passing is acknowledged, but this is a celebration of a life lived to the fullest. Unsurprisingly, the best and richest parts of this documentary are the various interviews with Howard himself, which unmistakably reveal a musician whose artistic integrity remained untarnished, and whose passion for music burned white hot to the very end.

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