Eat That Question: Frank Zappa in His Own Words
Directed by Thorsten Schütte
Thorsten Schütte’s film is a sharply edited and energetic celebration of Zappa through his public persona, allowing us to witness his shifting relationship with audiences. Utilizing potent TV interviews and many forgotten performances from his 30-year career, we are immersed into the musician’s world while experiencing two distinct facets of his complex character. At once Zappa was both a charismatic composer who reveled in the joy of performing and, in the next moment, a fiercely intelligent and brutally honest interviewee whose convictions only got stronger as his career ascended.
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★★★★ review by Roy Shtayim on Letterboxd
Tarantino was talking in the hall right above mine while I was watching this film. And I said goddamn. Goddamn.
★★★★½ review by Matthew Donahue on Letterboxd
Just a series of television interviews of Frank Zappa during his lifetime. Some insight into the man, but a hard to pin down timeline at points. Fans of Zappa will love it.
★★★★ review by Aaron King on Letterboxd
For me knowing nothing about him, it gave a pretty good look into who the man was and what he stood for. I'm not sure if I'll check out his music but I certainly respected who he was as a person and what he stood for.
★★★½ review by Steven Sheehan on Letterboxd
Frank in his own words from start to finish. Calling Zappa a musical anarchist makes no sense at all. What he understood most of all was that nothing is ever finished, that everything we hear is merely a stage of sonic evolution. Some have said he was too far ahead of the curve but it's hard to believe he would fit into the homogenised world of music today.
What the film unravels from his unconventional sound is just how conventional he really was. Given the period and feel of his music you might assume drugs were a key source of inspiration. Except that would be wrong, which is reminiscent of Ringo's admission in the Anthology documentary that everything The Beatles recorded while high was useless garbage. Zappa wasn't a crazy wild man lost in the sound of his own music. He understood the dynamics of the music industry, the need to earn money from his output and access to the commercial market.
Zappa's political and musical philosophies are the clear winners here, rather than following a carefully plotted path through his career. Which feels like the best approach to a musician that is hard to package into one box. He's a commanding presence on stage and during his interviews, which isn't just down to his iconic look but the clear cut way he spoke and orchestrated his sound. It's lovingly put together and works far better for existing fans of Zappa rather than those trying to find a way into his career.
★★★★½ review by David Weigel on Letterboxd
“In his own words” is a limitation that opens this movie right up — the only voices we hear are Zappa, his musicians, and his interviews. No material from after his death appears in this; no talking heads to, for example, put a problematic hit like “Bobby Brown Goes Down” in a modern context. We have an end-of-life Frank to do that for us. But the movie is also brave enough to use a clip of Zappa arguing that all interviews offer an artificial version of the subject.
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