A fascinating documentary about the music business, ARTIFACT takes a four year look at a legal dispute with some famous players and the broader state of the music industry.
First, I have to say up front that I have some wonderful friends from EMI/Capitol Records, both past and current folks, so I was watching cringing half the time as the story unfolded.
Oscar Award Winner Jared Leto's band Thirty Seconds to Mars was a group I had never followed and never heard even one of their songs.
I was surprised how good some of their music is as it accompanied the story. My impression that the band was just an actor's vanity project was decidedly off base.
Thirty Seconds is under contract to EMI and nine years into their agreement as the film unfolds. EMI/Virgin begins to push for a new album, the band pushes back, angry that they have never seen a dollar from their first two albums.
Selling out stadium tours overseas and building an international following, the group is seeing zero dollars for their efforts.
They are suddenly sued by EMI for $30 Million, a staggering sum that rocks them to their core. Cameras on hand to film the creation of their third album suddenly begin to capture what grows into an epic legal battle.
As investment group TERRA FIRMA buys EMI, the lawyers take a nasty turn and both sides dig in.
Jared Leto, his brother Shannon and third band member, guitarist Tomo Milicevic funnel all the conflict, negativity and anger into crafting their new album with famous producer Flood (U2, Depeche Mode).
The music is good, the band members are charismatic, the lawyers are in turn hilarious and brutal and the film is never less than fascinating.
Much of the former EMI senior staff are interviewed and most are in support of the band and their battle.
It's a telling insight into an industry attempting to save itself (from an entire generation that doesn't pay for music) by clinging onto an antiquated business model that hasn't adapted to a digital world.
You'll find yourself rooting for the good guys hanging on at EMI and the Leto brothers as they battle the corporation.
The final facts over the closing moments are especially telling, especially juxtaposed over the huge, screaming crowds at several Thirty Seconds To Mars stadium shows.
This is one interesting ARTIFACT indeed and it gets a pitch perfect B.