Taking its cue from its subjects, Julian Boshier’s all-access portrait of Head Like a Hole’s Nigel ‘Booga’ Beazley and Nigel Regan at home, on the road and in full roar on stage tells it like no other NZ music doco ever dared.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2017
Head Like a Hole stormed across the national consciousness in a blizzard of outrage, stunts and gigs in the early 90s. Any band as thunderously loud and theatrically confrontational as HLAH, with such a history of implosion, tragedy and resurrection, is going to have a story worth telling.
Swagger of Thieves director Julian Boshier has worked for a decade on this film. Sometime during that marathon of bloody-minded perseverance, he has earned the trust and respect of Nigel ‘Booga’ Beazley and Nigel Regan, the ever-collapsing binary stars who are the guts of any HLAH line up. Boshier finds the two men staring down the age with belligerence, vulnerability, shamelessness and honesty. There is no legacy polishing here, and no one’s feelings are spared.
Alongside the brace of Nigels we meet Tamzin Beazley, in many ways the camera-shy hero of the story, holding together a family in the face of Booga’s occasional flailing darkness. Ex and present band members emerge in various iterations – some wounded and disgruntled, others with their gruntle still fully intact. Studded through the film are performances by the band in all their cock-wobbling, floor pounding, propulsive and preposterous glory.
Swagger of Thieves is a heartfelt, hilarious and heartbreaking trip into the reality of the hardest-charging band of a generation. Whether you come as a fan of the music, as a fan of solid filmmaking, or as a bystander wondering what all the noise is about, you’ll be seeing one of the most intelligently assembled and truthfully told documentaries New Zealand has ever produced. — Graeme Tuckett