Eat That Question: Frank Zappa In His Own Words
Time Out says
This doc about the late, great Frank Zappa takes an odd, off-putting approach to the man and his music
Famously, Frank Zappa had this to say about music critics: ‘Most rock journalism is people who can’t write, interviewing people who can’t talk, for people who can’t read.’ It’s a zinger, and Zappa is a thorny twentieth-century giant who truly deserves a documentary profile. This film by Thorsten Schütte doesn’t quite get the job done. It’s sourced completely from archival interviews recorded before Zappa’s death in 1993 from cancer and includes virtually no new testimony or musical appreciation.
The decision to eschew all explanatory context is elitist. Zappa created conversations – with the scandalised classical and rock worlds, with Tipper Gore and the Parents Music Resource Center, with his shocked listeners – and the idea that his legacy would be better served without other voices in disagreement is a big problem.
Still, this footage will delight fans of the absurd, particularly Zappa’s 1963 arrival via a TV variety show on which he presented an avant-garde piece for stage orchestra and bicycle, performing alongside a logroller. His rock music gets a decent airing, but you wish more of the man’s perversity would come through: his intimidating ego, the way he could exhaust his bandmates. And, seriously, where is ‘Valley Girl’?