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Eat That Question

Suicide Squad

August 4, 2016

Eat That Question (***) R

I’m not sure exactly how you might categorize Frank Zappa and I’m pretty sure that’s exactly how he would have wanted it. Obviously, he was a musician, leading his beloved band, The Mothers of Invention, for the better portion of four decades, but he was so much more than that. I won’t go as far as to say that you’re going to come away with a total understanding of the man after seeing the new documentary about him entitled Eat That Question, but you’ll certainly come away with a better perspective on who he was and, best of all, his unique world view.

Whether or not you’re a fan of Zappa’s brand of music—I’m not—will have no bearing on your ability to enjoy the experience of Eat That Question. It’s a breezy film, clocking in at just a bit over 90 minutes, and it’s very easy to digest. The film has no narration. It’s basically just a well-selected pastiche of clips of Zappa, mostly in interviews conducted over the decades while he was in the public eye, espousing his opinions on everything from politics to fame to music and many other subjects that are too varied and numerous to list. His opinions are so carefully cultivated and articulately stated that it’s hard not be caught up in the spirit of his enthusiasm for the subjects with which he was obviously so passionate.

Eat That Question touches on basically all of the many phases of Zappa’s career, beginning with his TV appearances from the 60s as he attempts to make music from a bicycle and moving onward until the early 90s, shortly before his passing.

The late, many say great, Frank Zappa

Along the way, he tangles with anyone who goes against his world view, even telling one interviewer that he has no interest in being remembered and that being remembered is for politicians who spend their lives attempting to do just that. Interestingly, in spite of famously being grouped into the category of drug addict, we do learn that the extent of Zappa’s drug use consisted of nine joints over the course of a lifetime and not much else. It’s one of the many insights that are to be gleaned from the film.

Watching the film I felt a real sense of loss when reflecting upon the fact that Zappa has now been gone nearly a quarter of a century. He was one of those that are labeled irreplaceable and that would be correct. There simply isn’t anyone out there making the observations that Zappa was prone to do and I can’t help but wonder what he would make out of our current political climate. It’s a real shame that we don’t have the opportunity to find out.

Suicide Squad (**) PG-13

It’s so apparent that the film division of DC Comics wants desperately to be a serious competitor for the audience share of their chief competitor, Marvel. In fact, it was never more glaringly obvious than with their latest entry into the superhero film sweepstakes, Suicide Squad. This is a film with a serious identity crisis. It can’t decide if it wants to be a generic action film, larded up with the typical special effects overkill you would expect from that sort of thing, or if it would rather be a character based endeavor. It has some elements of both but succeeds at neither and the filmmaking team’s desire to please is so ever present and so palpable that you can almost sense the flop sweat dripping from the behind-the-scenes talent at every turn. Anyone that believes Suicide Squad to be the film to put DC on a par with Marvel will certainly want to reconsider that opinion after seeing this film.

To be honest, I actually kind of dug the first half hour of the film as the audience is introduced to the film’s characters, all of them notable DC Comics villains who are being recruited to basically save the day.

The Suicide Squad

I enjoyed the way that writer/director David Ayer managed to get the backstories of roughly half a dozen characters in under half an hour. This is the point where one has high hopes, thinking once the exposition is out of the way that Ayer can go on to the proverbial bigger fish of the film that need to be fried. It never happens. Instead the film sinks into one poorly filmed/edited, CGI laden set piece after another that just grows with tedium and monotony as the film unspools. Every now and then there’s a bit of respite from the proceedings as character back stories are introduced but then the film switches right back into the doldrums just when you think that something of interest might actually transpire.

Will Smith and Margot Robbie, as Dead Shot and Harley Quinn, respectively, lead the villains who are enlisted to stop what is basically a case of alien possession run amok. The film also gives some screen time to Jared Leto as The Joker but not as much as you might think (about 15 minutes, tops) considering all the commotion that’s been made online regarding his ‘shocking transformation’ into the character. Make no mistake, he’s decent but not likely to replace either Heath Ledger or Jack Nicholson any time soon. Come to think of it, he’s given so little to do that he won’t even replace memories of Caesar Romero’s performance on the old TV show. Such is the case with Suicide Squad.

Eat That Question is playing in Charlotte.

Suicide Squad is playing everywhere in this area.

Questions or comments? Write Adam at filmfan1970@hotmail.com.

 

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