No One Said It Would Be Easy: A Film About Cloud Cult

January 01, 1970

(Earthology, 100 minutes)

 

www.earthology.net

 

 

BY CHRISTIAN KIEFER

 

The story of Cloud Cult centers-and likely always will-on
the unexplained crib death of singer/songwriter Craig Minowa’s young son. Minowa
and his wife burrowed into their grief, as any parent likely would,
sequestering themselves up in rural Minnesota and essentially disappearing into
their twin obsessions. For Craig it was music; for his wife Connie it was
painting.

 

The documentary No One
Said It Would Be Easy: A Film About Cloud Cult
(directed by John Paul
Burgess) captures this story effectively and brings it up to the present day,
where Cloud Cult’s popularity has reached critical mass. It’s a hagiography, as
so many music documentaries are, but perhaps it’s difficult to approach Cloud
Cult with any measure of criticism. They are a band that obsessively works
toward lessening their carbon footprint, after all; no mean feat given the
electrical requirements of rock music. And then there is the dead child, a fact
that neither the filmmaker nor the band want us to forget. These are difficult
(and very real) topics, but their sum total pushes this vehicle a bit too far
over the mountain of good taste in making sure the viewer understands all too
well the importance-and indeed the self-importance-of the band.

 

And then there are those aspects of the film that just don’t
make much sense. Craig is the fundamental leader and guiding force of the band
and his wife, Connie, comes along and paints on stage during the live shows. They
are, then, a kind of “family band” of sorts, or so we are told. It therefore
seems odd that we never actually see any real affection between the two. Frankly,
we get more lovey-dovey from John and Kate (of Plus 8) and that’s saying something. One wonders if this was
something they chose to keep out of the film or if the “family band” vibe isn’t
quite what it’s made out to be.

 

There are more issues like this in film but it seems
pointless to nitpick. Nor should anyone get the impression that this is
anything less than an interesting and generally well-made film. Director John
Paul Burgess tells the story well, but one wishes the self-promotion aspects of
it were backgrounded a bit more, rather than the constant foregrounding. Even
the “100 % PCW paperboard & soy ink” packaging includes the band’s
discography and a “sign up on Cloud Cult’s e-mail list for show updates”
address. One can’t help but applaud the band for its chutzpah in making such a
film-and for being concerned about the carbon footprint (as should we all
be)-but all the self-applause starts feeling a bit too cloying in the end.

 

Special Features: Music videos, bonus concert footage, digital downloads of live tracks

 

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