You See Me Laughin' is an apt title for this historical documentary concerning the lives of veteran Mississippi bluesmen R. L. Burnside, Cedell Davis, T-Model Ford, the late Junior Kimbrough and others who've recorded for the Oxford-based Fat Possum label.
Of course, in the Richard M. Jones blues standard Trouble In Mind, from which the DVD gets its title, the follow-up line is "I'm laughin' just to keep from cryin'," and similarly, what's missing from this affectionate study is much of the real pain, hardship, regret, anger and frustration behind the wonderfully transfixing music of these brilliant but ornery artists. Too often they're portrayed as mystical shamans rather than real men with troubled lives who've survived bar brawls, knife fights and prison stints to father and feed small armies of offspring. They all have incredibly wild, weird and poignant stories (sometimes colourfully embellished), yet filmmaker Mindy Stein rarely gets the good stuff, and if she does, it's just the superficial bits.
Rock stars such as Iggy Pop, Bono and Jon Spencer show up to tell their hilarious tourist-style tales of brushes with authentic bluesmen, but it would've been more useful to have some authoritative expert commentary to put it all into proper perspective.