In ‘Hot Sugar’s Cold World,’ a Minor Talent Gets a Minor Movie


You may not have heard of Hot Sugar, a producer whose real name is Nick Koenig and who makes music by heavily processing found sounds and then noodling around with them on a keyboard. He’s a mild internet phenomenon and the subject/star of Hot Sugar’s Cold World, a pseudo-doc with the knowing smirk of a reality TV star.

Over the course of the film, Koenig, a sallow, heavy-lidded youth who looks like he could be aged anywhere between 19 and 36, is revealed to be both an unspiring artist and an odious protagonist: In pursuit of original sounds, he breaks into a school to light fireworks in the gym; at one point he even tiptoes into the Catacombs of Paris to clunk some human skulls together.

The director, Adam Bhala Lough, who previously tailed Lil Wayne for 2009’s The Carter, is reduced to including Tumblr screencaps and Net art montages to explain this small-time miscreant’s place in a world seemingly drafted along the lines of corporate interest (the film is presented by Noisey, an arm of Vice Media). Koenig’s family doesn’t appear; he instead spends his time meeting up with members of rap group Das Racist, the actor Martin Starr, and, during a particularly awkward segment, Neil deGrasse Tyson.

The film’s realest moment occurs when Koenig and his girlfriend, Tumblr rapper Kitty, pretend to look busy at an industry party — but soon enough, he’s back to pontificating on room acoustics and recording himself kicking bags of garbage. This would be great ammo for any parents out there who suspect their bartender-DJ son is going down the wrong path; the average viewer will find little justification to continue watching.

Hot Sugar’s Cold World

Directed by Adam Bhala Lough

Amplify Releasing

Opens November 13, IFC Center

Available on demand