Movie review: Ashes of American Flags

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

On the current leg of their world tour, the closest Wilco will get to Columbus is Athens for a sold-out show Friday night. But we're one of less than 30 cities hosting a big-screen showing of their new concert DVD Ashes of American Flags. The screening Saturday at the Wex accompanies a pre-release of the film to independent record stores for Record Store Day.

Though it lacks the drama of 2002's I Am Trying to Break Your Heart, the doc by Fugazi drummer Brendan Canty and co-director Christoph Green shot during last year's tour captures Wilco at its peak in performance and lineup. A genuine camaraderie behind the scenes extends to live sets offering a sampling of their discography - an especially killer version of "The Late Greats" from A Ghost is Born, for example - at legendary venues like Nashville's Ryman Auditorium and Tipitina's in New Orleans.

As the filmmakers confirm through ruminative interviews and concert footage that beautifully projects both intimacy and grandeur, touring is one of Wilco's essential elements ("Our band's made its living on the road," singer Jeff Tweedy states).

They also establish through scenes of drummer Glenn Kotche piling bags of ice on his knee and Tweedy crediting steroids for getting him through the Nashville concert that this golden age can't last forever.

"Ashes of American Flags"

Screens Saturday, April 18, at the Wexner Center Film/Video Theater

Grade: B+