Cure for Pain - The Mark Sandman Story (2011)

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Somewhere in that weathered, lowdown croon, pathos, euphoria, humor, weariness, and more could envelop the listener. There was a closeness to the sound as his voice swam alongside his two-string slide bass, Dana ColleyΓÇÖs saxophone, and Billy ConwayΓÇÖs drums in MorphineΓÇÖs seductive ΓÇ£low-rock.ΓÇ¥

In the documentary ΓÇ£Cure for Pain: The Mark Sandman Story,ΓÇ¥ playing the Brattle Theatre Friday through July 1, it is observed that there was a true disparity between how enigmatic the Massachusetts native was and how intimately listeners felt connected to him. It was a real gift and one of the many reasons it was so wrenching when Sandman passed away on July 3, 1999, while playing a gig with Morphine in Italy. He was 46.

The 84-minute ΓÇ£Cure for PainΓÇ¥ aims to illuminate the man behind the sound.

Because, as the film tells us repeatedly, Sandman was a deeply private person, the portrait is hardly complete. But filmmakers Robert G. Bralver and David Ferino shrewdly work within their limitations. (For instance, a long interlude of Sandman traveling as a young man is illustrated with postcards from Alaska, Peru, and other places.) And with SandmanΓÇÖs friends, band mates, family members, and girlfriend ΓÇö as well as some terrific archival interviews ΓÇö filling in the gaps, ΓÇ£Cure for PainΓÇ¥ is a loving and candid look at SandmanΓÇÖs life and artistry.

Following a typical rock doc chronology, we watch Sandman evolve from artistic child to world traveler to innovative rocker through photos, home video, newspaper clippings, and best of all, live performances.

Fellow musicians such as Mike Watt, Ben Harper, and Dicky Barrett of the Mighty Mighty Bosstones opine on the Newton-bred singer-songwriterΓÇÖs musical contributions. Band mates Colley and Conway reminisce about their brother. In the filmΓÇÖs most poignant passages, SandmanΓÇÖs parents discuss their reaction to his unconventional life and the effects of the deaths of SandmanΓÇÖs younger brothers Jon and Roger, who were also buried far too young.

Sandman himself beams out from TV interviews in all his slyly comic and laconic glory.

As Watt says succinctly in the film, Sandman was ΓÇ£a very happening cat.ΓÇ¥ The best thing that ΓÇ£Cure for PainΓÇ¥ accomplishes is helping remind people of just how happening, and of SandmanΓÇÖs inimitable voice.

Written by Sarah Rodman

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Cure for Pain - The Mark Sandman Story (2011).avi 1.56 GB
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