Friday, 19 September 2014

Still Crazy (UK, 1998)

























When you see the poster for this movie it tells you everything you need to know. Its a mock cover of the famous Rolling Stone magazine featuring the aging 70's band 'Strange Fruit'. You can tell quite easily the movie is going to be a good laugh by the quite disturbingly haggard and unsexy looking pose from Nighy in the centre, its funny and icky at the same time.

The plot, as you can imagine, is all about getting the band back together for a reunion concert. Back in the day 'Strange Fruit' were on the brink of stardom but it all fell apart when their lead singer died of a drugs overdose. Twenty years later Rea trying to get the guys back on-board whilst having to deal with each members current problems and the confrontations that have reared up again. Eventually, once everybody is brought together again, it is discovered their old lead guitarist (brother of their old lead singer) has also apparently died of a drugs overdose (as is the norm in this business). This forces the band to hire a much younger guitarist for their comeback adding more tension. Can the lads all come together and prove to themselves they've still got what it takes? or they had what it took originally to make it to the big time?

I think the casting is the one main factor that makes this film work, the small British ensemble casting of Nighy, Nail, Rea, Connolly and Spall. Not only does this group of oddball character actors gel together perfectly but visually they actually look like an aging 70's rock band too. Nighy as the flaky somewhat slow long haired rock-star lead singer, Connolly has always looks the part of a hippie rock singer so no worries there, Rea with his curly Brian May hairdo, Nail the deep conscientious heart of the band, the hard worker with strong morals and family values and finally Spall looks like a dirty unwashed biker with Inland Revenue issues.























I liked the whole loggerhead scenario between Nighy's character and Nail's character. Nighy's character being the epitome of a glamorous fame obsessed money grabber, his larger then life rock-star lifestyle clashing against the quiet brooding song writer of Nail's character. Nighy does tend to be the problem in the band for the most part with his overbearing wife and the fact he is still haunted by the reality that he was hired as a replacement for the bands old lead singer. He tries to elevate his performances with glam costumes and stage effects because he's insecure over his own abilities, now being much older. This in turn affects the band and their overall performances which provides both amusing and sober sequences.

The situations and scenarios are really authentic within this film. The group having to slum it around backstreet nightclubs for work and recognition, dodgy stage safety, trying to re-tune their skills whilst bickering with each other, bad food on the go, little money, poor accommodation and the obligatory sex drugs and booze problems. This angle is stronger because its also about a group of old men trying to rekindle something great they once had, reigniting an old flame. The outlook on life and the music is very different from their younger days, its not all about sex drugs and roll 'n' roll anymore, there is more to it than that. Sure they wanna be like their younger selves again and uncork that lightning in a bottle but the team has to learn to settle old scores, move on and help each other with their dreams.

The locations humour visuals and dialog is all typically British and it is a hoot to watch but the fall outs and reconciliations along the way do get a bit frustrating, you just wanna slap them and tell them to get on with it. The movie does tend to drag a tad through the middle, there are some nice montages and some great original musical numbers but the break up of the band midway brings with it lots of moping by Nail's character who can be overly broody. Its mainly Nail Nighy and Rea who carry the film honesty, Connolly and Spall tend to fade in and out of the background whilst Matheson does his best Liam Gallagher walk at one point. The finale and its little twist is cute but completely predictable, but we all knew it would end on a happy note I'm sure.

A fantastic nod to the late 60's 70's glam rock era of course, many influences, very relatable for many I'm sure and very very very British with its dry wit and toilet humour. Personally I think the film should of been called 'Strange Fruit'...rock 'n' roll forever!

8/10