There’s a savory moment of caught-on-the-fly tension I Am Trying to Break Your Heart, a modest vérité portrait of Wilco, the engagingly melodious, deeply unglam alt-folk rockers. Their leader and songwriter, Jeff Tweedy, gets into an extended tiff around the mixing board with Jay Bennett, the intense sideman who looks like a Philip Seymour Hoffman character. They’re both channeling the pressure of $1,000-a-day studio time, yet you can feel the Stillwater-like clash of ego as well. (By the end, Bennett has been kicked out of the band.)
The director, Sam Jones, follows Wilco as they record their fourth album, ”Yankee Hotel Foxtrot,” in a Chicago loft and then find themselves being turned into poster boys for everything that’s gone wrong in the music industry after the album is rejected by its label, Warner/Reprise. Yet the movie, surprisingly, isn’t an anticorporate screed. Wilco, which ended up on another Warner label (Nonesuch), are revered by fans as if they are the second coming of R.E.M., yet the group is closer in spirit to a latter-day version of The Band. It’s no insult to Wilco’s music to say that they lack star quality, or that this documentary presents nothing more than a minor corporate skirmish with a happy ending.