It isn’t precisely the media’s fault that the media narrative round Alanis Morissette fixated initially on her anger. Not less than not one hundred pc. “You Oughta Know,” the primary single off Jagged Little Capsule, is an impossibly catchy, uncomfortably indignant track, and it arrived accompanied by a video during which an unrecognizable Morissette portrayed one thing of a desert wraith in an arid, rage-filled unpacking of soiled laundry.
For sure audiences who didn’t know Morissette from her Canadian pop roots or the kiddie sketch comedy sensation You Can’t Do That on Tv, it was an introduction that clouded perceptions surrounding an album that’s not, in its totality, particularly indignant. It made every part Morissette has completed subsequently really feel like a shock, from albums putting self-exploration forward of angst to her winking consolation taking part in on these preliminary interpretations of her persona with roles like God in Kevin Smith’s Dogma or because the voice of Alanis Morissette the Celestial Guardian Angel on Fox’s animated The Nice North.
The Backside Line
A likable and musically nostalgic have a look at a girl miscast as merely indignant.
It shouldn’t be shocking, then, that the Alanis Morissette we meet in Alison Klayman’s Jagged, one other entry in HBO’s Invoice Simmons-produced Music Field anthology documentary sequence, is sort of ridiculously personable. There’s some candor right here, and fleeting moments of actual darkness, however Morissette leads Jagged with a perpetual smile and an amiable goofiness. One may suppose this was one thing she had matured into in recent times, however the movie is dominated by plentiful first-person documentation of her mid-’90s explosion during which that very same ear-to-ear grin and irrepressible power had been pervasive even when journal covers had been caught on her being some type of High 40 banshee.
In contrast to the Music Field documentary Listening to Kenny G, Jagged isn’t meant as a reclamation undertaking, as a result of Alanis Morissette is doing simply wonderful, thankyouverymuch. Neither is it an easy biopic, as a result of had been that the case, I’d in all probability be ticked off at having her total You Can’t Do That on Tv expertise dismissed with the road “It was an excessive amount of like a full-time job.”
Although Klayman provides some biographical setup, Jagged is closely centered round Jagged Little Capsule, a welcome narrowing of imaginative and prescient that lets the director do one factor in cheap depth, versus making an attempt to cram every part from a lifetime into 96 minutes. In one of many early scenes within the documentary, Morissette takes Klayman on a pilgrimage to her storage locker, an area filled with the type of treasure trove that may have followers salivating over the field upon field of audiocassette demos and residential films on VHS and varied movie shares, plus a whole duffle bag that she laughingly says is filled with love letters from boyfriends previous.
Sufficient backstage and live performance footage, sufficient uncooked vocal tracks, sufficient handwritten lyrics discover their means into the story, all complementing a wide-ranging group of interview topics together with producer-collaborator Glen Ballard, Maverick Data government Man Oseary and a number of members of Morissette’s touring band, led by future Foo Fighter Taylor Hawkins. Shirley Manson, of Rubbish, provides a Scottish-inflected perspective on Morissette’s affect on the business and the way it realized to deal with girls who don’t match into an simply branded pop package deal, whereas a number of commentators, led by Hanif Abdurraqib and Lorraine Ali, carry out comparable duties from a journalistic perspective.
There’s an exploration of her sense of track construction, of her vivid use of language (if not practically sufficient appreciation for her precise voice). There’s a fast dismissal of anyone with the temerity to criticize her definition of “ironic” (although it seems like you may reward that vivid use of language and nonetheless carp about “irony”).
Largely the documentary attracts upon Klayman’s conversations with Morissette, who provides humorous tales and even a Madonna impression, considerably softening the sting from the absence of Madonna, impresario of Morissette’s Maverick label, as an on-camera participant. I’d say that Morissette is open, with distinct reservations, and possibly was promised by Klayman that this wouldn’t be “that” type of documentary. Discuss of her battle with an consuming dysfunction is circuitous, as are the references to her emotions of sexual exploitation in her early skilled years (although her closing level on that topic is devastating). I’m unsure #MeToo-style exploration of these matters would essentially have had a spot right here, nor was I upset that Morissette didn’t really feel this was the second to supply tawdry specifics on any of the lads who impressed songs on Jagged Little Capsule.
Jagged is extra missing, although, when discuss turns to the 18-month tour supporting the album — featured with a depth that’s an actual spotlight of the documentary. Band members admit, with just a little retrospective chagrin, that they exploited Morissette’s movie star for an extended journey of debauchery, however her disapproval is proscribed to a single stern sentence. It’s additionally fascinating that she brings up the concept members of the band may need skilled jealousy or resentment about being a near-anonymous backing ensemble — “I didn’t take note of who her band was, however, um, had been we alleged to?” Ali asks — with none anecdotes as an example that pressure. One wonders if these half-explored parts had been included as a proxy for the intercourse, medicine and infighting that viewers may anticipate from a rock documentary.
It isn’t needed. Jagged works as a snapshot of an album that earned affection, album gross sales and the type of ubiquity that wouldn’t be doable in the present day. You may suppose you need the story of a younger girl who journeyed into darkness and got here out the opposite facet. But when the precise story is of a younger girl who used music as remedy (along with precise remedy) and was, most of the time, content material and even happy with a second of success that few of us can fathom? Why not. Stardom breaks so many artists, eliminates their capability to smile and be goofy. Which may have greater drama, however followers of Jagged Little Capsule will in all probability be happier to see Morissette with cute youngsters, a wonderful dwelling library, and that smile intact.