Monday, May 17, 2010

DO IT AGAIN: The Film Babble Blog Review

(Dir. Robert Patton-Spruill, 2010)

I wrote about this film briefly before in my coverage of the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival last month, but I thought that it deserved more blogspace because #1: it is currently making the film fest rounds in hopes of finding a buyer, and #2 because it’s truly a wonderful film. Boston Globe reporter and writer of a few children’s books, Geoff Edgers, turns what could’ve been another conversational throwaway – “hey, wouldn’t it be great if I could personally get my favorite band back together?” – into a funny visual diary of his said crazy yet understandable quest.

Director Robert Patton-Spruill follows Edgers around as he makes phone calls, takes interviews, and neurotically obsesses over whether this is a worthwhile project. The object of his obsession is the rock band The Kinks, a band thought to be in the third tier after the Beatles and the Rolling Stones in terms of the 60’s British Invasion. 

The Kinks haven’t recorded or toured since the mid 90’s with infamous tales of sibling rivalry between the brothers Ray and Dave Davies being the suspected cause of their split after 32 years together.

Edgers, with his easy going charisma, breaks this down for us with clips, photos, and song snippets, but the title makes it clear that this is no band bio doc. That’s just background for Edgers’ quasi adventure that would definitely be a lot shorter if he was able to get Ray Davies on the phone right off the bat. Instead he goes to visit with Kinks influenced musicians including Robyn Hitchcock, Paul Weller (The Jam), and Peter Buck (R.E.M.). There’s a side gimmick to Edger’s premise, he tries to get these participants to sing a Kinks song with him.

Winding in and out of these interviews are bits of Edgers in mind numbing proof reading sessions at his newspaper gig and sulking as he discusses finances with his wife. Maybe, as some have said, these are the motions of a mid life crisis, but Edgers appears to know this and his enthusiasm and sense of humor overcomes this concern.

Filmed on a ladder as he’s cleaning the gutters of his roof, Edgers complains about subpar bands that have reunited: “Styx, Flock of Seagulls, the fucking Eagles!” His disgust is amusing, yet moving - who hasn’t been pissed off at overflowing mediocrity while quality art is often hiding in obscurity. “Man, the Eagles!” Edgers says again, still cleaning out the rooting leaves from his roof's gutter.

The film is packed with Kinks songs so if you don’t know them going in, you’re sure to have somewhat of an appreciation for them when you leave. Several of the interviewees refuse to sing along with Edgers, but Zooey Deschanel, Robyn Hitchcock, and Sting are game so loose charming versions of such classics as "You Really Got Me", "Set Me Free", "David Watts, and "Waterloo Sunset" are performed.

In a moment of desperation, when Ray Davies proves grandly elusive, Edgers flies to England to attend a Kinks convention at which the front man has been known to make surprise appearances. To go on further would be a Spoiler! – don’t get me wrong, one should know going in that Edgers doesn’t reunite the Kinks, but he does score an incredibly touching interview with a key player that puts his quest into perspective.

Edgers may go down in pop culture history as the biggest Kinks fan ever for this effort, which I bet he’d love, but there’s a lot more going on here. There’s an inspiring lesson about abandoning fear and focusing on one dream – no matter how impossible or stupid others may tell you it is. DO IT AGAIN is a delicious documentary that usurps the Michael Moore model of a one man mission movie to make something more personal and then rock out with it. It’s also the one documentary I demand to see a sequel to – I mean, the quest has just begun - right, Geoff?

Postnote: I should say that I’m a huge Kinks fan which makes me a bit biased here, but still think many will get a lot out of this film. Also, unlike writer and star Geoff Edgers, I actually saw the Kinks live back in 1993 at Rocky’s - a sports bar in Charlotte N.C. (!) Edgers told me he had a recording of this show in his collection - with hope one day he’ll make me a copy.

More later...


KWnSC said...

Hey I was at that show too! Great fun, great show and a very underated live band. I had been searching trying to remember what the name of the place was. I remember Low Budget being one of my fav and Still Searching and all the Phobia songs too.

KWnSC said...

I was at that show too! Great Great show. I am so glad I had the chance to see them. I remember Low Budget and Still Searching and the Phobia songs all being excellent.