’12-12-12,’ reviewed by Marshall Fine


Amir Bar-Lev and Charlie Lightening’s new film, “12-12-12” would be worth seeing if only for the moment where James Dolan loses his temper because of a technical glitch.

Any New York Knicks fan can offer a laundry list of Dolan’s contumelies as the team’s owner. He’s one of those larger-than-life figures who, it seems, is as in love with himself as he is hated by his constituency, for his wrong-headed, ego-driven management of that beloved team.

So schadenfreude kicks in a little bit about halfway through “12-12-12,” the new documentary about how the massive Hurricane Sandy benefit concert at Madison Square Garden was put together last year. At one point, an hour or so into the concert, which was broadcast live on HBO, Internet donations to the concert’s website suddenly dropped from $40,000 a minute to $4,000 a minute.

Dolan and co-organizer Harvey Weinstein stare impatiently at a laptop, as a techie explains that donation volume seems to have incapacitated the servers, preventing people from logging on and donating. Dolan gets angrier and angrier, at one point threatening someone on the phone to take every dollar lost out of the ISP’s own pocket.

The oddly tanned Dolan almost has little wisps of steam coming out of his ears – until Weinstein spots Eric Schmidt, head of Google, who’s wandering around backstage – and presto, the problem is fixed. Dolan, meanwhile, ends up looking petulant and impotent.

There are a handful of moments like this in “12-12-12,” a movie that’s as much about the concert itself as what went into its planning and production. You don’t get a lot of information about the event, so much as an initial organizing meeting and a lot of backstage footage.

What Bar-Lev and Lightening do best is picking tunes from individual bands’ sets that resonate with the catastrophe itself.

This review continues on my website.

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