Austin, TX has a well renowned and fantastic music scene. At SXSW, not only is it shown in their music section of the festival (with artists like SASAMI, Ringo Deathstarr, Wet Leg, Japanese Breakfast, and Linqua Franqa playing), but also on the 24 Beats Per Second documentaries in their film festival. One of the most interesting ones playing this year is Alice Gu’s Really Good Rejects. The doc covers the life of Reuben Cox, a modern-day luthier. Although you may not have heard of him (to be frank, I didn’t either), it’s fascinating to see and hear his process of creating some of the most sought-after guitars in the rock genre. However, it isn’t only a story about his process and mechanisms. The doc takes us into the lives of the different musicians that have bought or received a guitar from Cox (from Michael Alden Hadreas aka Perfume Genius and Carrie Brownstein of Sleater Kinney, to Aaron Dessner and Phoebe Bridgers).
The reason why this documentary works is not its topic, it’s how director Alice Gu asks her questions. They cause the artists (and Cox) to open up about their experiences, the meaning that guitars have for them, and also the trials and tribulations experienced in the music industry. The Dessners have a great affinity towards the skilled luthier, which is shown in how they express themselves. The one problem Really Good Rejects has is its development and construction. It doesn’t seem to have a precise structure regarding the topics it wants to talk about from beginning to end, having more so of a laid-back direction. Nonetheless, it manages to engage thanks to the fun & warm interviews as well as the intriguing topic. Music enthusiasts and indie-rock lovers should take a gander at his documentary, as it will likely be one they’ll enjoy.