But not everyone is thrilled - such as The Melvins frontman and Cobain’s high school buddy Buzz Osborne, who claims “90% of Montage of Heck is bullshit.” Osborne is mentioned briefly in the film.
After the film’s release, Osborne published this on The Talkhouse:
“I went to high school with Kurt and was a big part of all the Nirvana guys’ lives before and after they became famous. I thought very highly of Kurt, Krist and Dave. We were good friends when they were all flat broke, long before they could buy big houses and cars with credit cards. My band played with Nirvana at their last show. I was there for the beginning and I was there for the end, for the very good and the very bad.
First off, people need to understand that 90% of Montage Of Heck is bullshit. Total bullshit. That’s the one thing no one gets about Cobain — he was a master of jerking your chain.
For instance, I know the whole “I tried to fuck a fat retard” story is complete bullshit. Not even an inkling of truth. That’s too good a story to have gone this long without me hearing about it, especially if, as he suggests, the girl’s father freaked out about it at the high school. In that small-town shit-hole, exciting news of that nature would have been common knowledge before the sun set. It never happened. And the trying-to-kill-himself-on-the-train-tracks story is bullshit as well. It never happened either. There it is, though, told in a recording of Kurt’s own voice so it must be true…right? Wrong.
Kurt also told me there was absolutely nothing wrong with his stomach. He made it up for sympathy and so he could use it as an excuse to stay loaded. Of course he was vomiting — that’s what people on heroin do, they vomit. It’s called “vomiting with a smile on your face.
And then there’s Courtney.
A lot of what she says in this documentary doesn’t exactly jibe with things Kurt told me himself, but I suppose that’s not surprising when you consider history becomes elastic every time Courtney Love opens her mouth.
For instance, she’d have us believe that Kurt tried to off himself when she’d only thought about cheating on him?
Wow. That’s a whole lot different from the stories he told me in regards to Courtney’s behavior — and this was well before he ended up dead. And that’s just one example.
When Courtney speaks, the truth is certainly there, but God only knows where it begins and ends. In the 20 years since Kurt’s death, the undisputed facts of some of her stories seem to change almost hourly. I remain unconvinced in regards to her testimony, and I don’t think I’m alone.
I find it amusing that the filmmakers never bothered to fact-check simple stuff like this, and just took Kurt and Courtney at their word. That’s a bit risky when you’re supposed to be making a behind-the-scenes documentary — but not surprising considering that not a lot of what’s out there about Kurt is the truth anyway. But no one seems to care. Unfortunately, it matters very little what the facts are; what matters is what people believe. And when it comes to Cobain, most of what they believe is fabricated nonsense. Montage Of Heck does nothing to counter that. With that in mind, it’s really hard to take any of this film seriously…
…I suppose this movie will be interesting for Nirvana completists, because it certainly reinforces their already twisted view of the man. I found it to be mostly misguided fiction.”
Osborne says he voiced these opinions simply to stand up for a friend who isn’t around to stand up for himself.
Osborne’s statements may hold a lot of weight with people who want to discredit the film. Message boards and discussion forums on IMDB and Reddit are full of people claiming the film is propaganda pushed by Courtney Love to change the public impression of her late husband, or to improve her own image. And it’s true that Love hasn’t been entirely trustworthy in the past - I mean, the film shows her admitting she was a junkie piece of trash in the 1990s. So why trust her? Buzz Osborne certainly doesn’t, and she holds a pretty bad rapport with most Nirvana fans.
Filmmaker Brett Morgen claims that while this was an authorized documentary - the first of its kind for Cobain - he maintained final cut privileges on the film. Love nor any other member of the Cobain estate had to review its contents before distribution, and therefore weren’t able to sway its content or the way it represented Cobain. Morgen created the film solely from materials he discovered in Cobain’s personal storage area and interviews he conducted himself. During his research, he unearthed things Cobain’s own family didn’t know existed, like the tape that inspired the film's title. That in itself is evidence that Cobain didn’t share every part of himself with anyone - and if he wasn’t sharing things with Courtney, who the film makes apparent he did genuinely love, he certainly wasn’t sharing them with Buzz Osborne.
Osborne very well could be right, but he just as easily could be wrong. His criteria for why so much of Montage of Heck is false is largely “because I didn’t know about it,” which isn't much of a reason. As I said, Cobain had secrets. And as Osborne himself said in his Talkhouse review, Cobain was a "master of jerking your chain." It’s likely that the pages of those journals and the magnetic tape inside the cassettes that helped Morgen construct the film were the only places the authentic Cobain existed aside from within the man himself.
And if this film was so misguided and wrong, why was Novoselic so willing to be in it? What about Cobain's mother and sister, and his ex-girlfriend Tracey? They certainly can't all live under the influence of Courtney Love's pressure.
Osborne also harps on story points like Cobain’s audio recording depicting his sexual encounter with the “fat, slow girl,” saying it never happened (again because he didn't know about it). But it's worth remembering Montage of Heck never says "this happened" - it’s just a story that Cobain recorded and the filmmakers animated. Could Cobain simply have written that story, recorded it into a tape, and preserved it for fun or as a coping mechanism, as so many of his journals and audio recordings were? Sure. And it’s not so much important whether or not it happened, what’s important is that it shows something about the kind of person Cobain was, and the types of things he’d do to deal with the demons in his head.
Morgen may have done everything wrong, or may have got it all right. Osborne may be accurate, or Cobain may have misled everyone he’s ever known and Montage is as close to perfect as we can get. If nothing else, what Montage of Heck does is show us footage and materials we’ve never seen before about one of music’s most legendary people. It focused on his life as a guy, a father, and a drug addict, instead of dwelling on his success or his suicide like most other films.