Zappa Image

Zappa

By Hunter Lanier | March 13, 2020

SXSW FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW! The thing about counter-culture is that it always becomes a culture of its own. It’s not the rebel yell it brands itself as, but a second venue to trade your identity for a membership card with your faceless picture on it. Few public figures rejected both the establishment and anti-establishment with the vehemence of Frank Zappa. Any form of authoritarianism — fascism, communism, socialism, theocracy — was to be routinely challenged with humor and intelligence, punctuated by middle fingers.

“…his music was an extension of that decision…to do whatever he wanted to do, the way he wanted to do it.”

Zappa, a new documentary directed by Alex Winter, takes on the challenge of capturing the late musician’s zig-zag life. The burden isn’t because it’s challenging to find material — cut out any piece of Zappa’s career, and you’ll get something good. What’s tough is trying to stuff his entire life into a single, solitary feature-length documentary. With that in mind, Zappa is as good as can be expected, though it’s a little too straight, considering the subject. There are eccentric cutaways to freaky freak stuff that seem poised to subliminally hypnotize you to paint yourself green. But there’s also the kitschy piano music when things get dour and other documentary clichés that stick out more than they would if the subject was Billy Joel.

Starting with Zappa’s childhood, the creation twitch is already apparent. He’s making little monster movies with his family and editing them together. His musical influences included the usual blues musicians that his contemporaries listened to, but also the subversive classical music of composer Edgard Varese. Beginning as a small-time film composer, Zappa started running a recording studio called Studio Z. It was there that he was arrested for handing over a recording of simulated sex to an undercover cop.

Zappa (2020)

Directed and Written: Alex Winter

Starring: Frank Zappa, Gail Zappa, Bruce Bickford, Pamela Des Barres, Henry Dutt, Bunk Gardner, David Harrington, Joe Travers, Ian Underwood, Ruth Underwood, Steve Vai,, etc.

Movie score: 8/10

Zappa Image

"…Few public figures rejected both the establishment and anti-establishment with the vehemence of Frank Zappa."

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  1. G-man says:

    Does anyone know when this movie is being released? I know it was supposed to be screened at SXSW, pre-Covid shuttering.

  2. greggary peccary says:

    I am a movie backer. Why don’t radio stations give him air play? Have been looking for the release. Government conspiracy the covid-19 scare coincides? WWFD???

  3. Tim K says:

    Myself and some friends of mine drove down from Palmdale to see Zappa at the Roxy in Hollywood. That was the night he recorded ” LIVE AT THE ROXY”.
    When Frank asked on the album….”does anyone know where Palmdale Is?”….that was us…yeah, we were a little tipsy.
    I almost didn’t go that night, but am I glad I did. I had no idea how talented he was till that evening.

  4. Joe says:

    The remnants of a modern day composer. His works will stand the test of time. The media that rejected his theorems, was in fact a reflection of themselves.

  5. Steve Lasky says:

    How can I view this film in Eufene OR?

  6. Nelson Pinheiro says:

    I’m wating to see it. Zappa was the Mozart of the 20 century.

  7. Kid rock says:

    Im 58, at 15yrs of age, i was turned on to FRANK ZAPPA!! At first, it was because we thought he was funny!! And, he WAS!! But, i’ve learned he’s one of the BEST GUITARIST!! And his was of leading a band!! I CAN CHOKE, SO MANY IGGNORENT PEOPLE, WHO SAYS, OH FRANK ZAPPA, THAT GOOFY GUY, WHO MAKES UP HIS OWN LYRICS?!! I SAY, WHOEVER IT IS, DON’T SHOW YOUR IGGNORENCE!! RIP FRANK ZAPPA!! 🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏

  8. Jon Kaplan says:

    I just can not see how you can stuff intricate details of Frank’s life in a few hours of video. FZ was ahead of his time then, now and tomorrow. A once in a blue moon individual whose true fans are appreciating different aspects of his work every passing day.

  9. Albert Schwartz says:

    Netflix etc possibilities?

  10. Albert Schwartz says:

    Cool!

  11. Raymond T. Whitson III says:

    What about release date and venues?
    Bought my 1st FZ album (WRMF) in ’69, never looked back. I was 15 years old.
    I was told from the age of 6 that I was weird. I thought something was wrong with me. Frank taught me that I should not only be comfortable with being weird, but to find joy in it, and to rub it in the faces of conformists. A fellow Kentuckian, Hunter Thompson, stated,” When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.” Frank was the ultimate pro.

  12. Allen Harrison says:

    Looking forward to it !!

  13. Jamesybaby says:

    Nice. It’s about time. #Freakfase jp

  14. Vinnie spahr says:

    From a man who left no stone on his grave . I believe frank would not approve of this .

  15. Cyclenman says:

    No way to delay…

  16. Rudi says:

    Waar kan ik dit bekijken?

  17. Charles Lehner says:

    Capturing Zappa in a movie indicates to me that it be phased and lengthy… with seven parts…

  18. Ryan Panco says:

    Looks like an interesting film to see. Will this be aired on tv?

  19. Carolyn Zaremba says:

    Although I am a Marxist, I have loved Frank Zappa’s music since the late 1960s. I know some people who refuse to listen to his music because he wasn’t a socialist, but I think that’s stupid. Musical genius is musical genius. I mean, even the Israeli Philharmonic plays Wagner, right? I’d like to see this film.

    • Nobody should let their admiration for dead bearded guy get in the way of their admiration for a different dead bearded guy. When you open one door in your mind, another one doesn’t open or close. Open everything and get some circulation going.

  20. ML Quattrochi says:

    Frank was the absolute composer. I don’t believe that during his short life any other person could create musical scores anywhere equal. His music did all the things it was supposed to do when I listened, and still does so today.

  21. Mary Jo La France says:

    Oh I’ve been looking forward to seeing this sounds wonderful thank you thank you thank you

  22. Paul Montemarano says:

    The maestro of my generation and those to come.

  23. Paul says:

    I’m in the United States, California , where can I see, or how can I get this movie?

  24. lala s says:

    I just heard Dweezil say on tour that he is making his own FZ doc. Now THAT, I’d watch

  25. Ian Stark says:

    Freak Out was one of the first albums I ever bought. I’ve been a fan of Zappa’s ever since. His music has been an inspiration to my playing. Zappa is awesome!

  26. Mir says:

    Pidamos lo imposile

  27. Christina says:

    Andrew Berian,

    Ridgewood NJ, my brother, Andrew Berian, could blow you away like FZ on guitar. I was in 2nd grade running through the house singing Titties and Beer…

  28. Steve Baker says:

    Thanks Hunter, can’t wait to hand over my sticky pennies to see this. Born and raised FZ fanatic.

  29. Stuart Rose says:

    Love me some Zappa! Pure Genius!!

  30. Scott Ward says:

    Hates drugs but smoked nicotine

  31. Bob Partain says:

    Can’t wait to see it!

  32. Little Jack says:

    Looking forward to it.

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