This fascinating and comprehensive documentary provides insight into the many sides of Frank Zappa, one of modern music’s most popular yet uncategorizable artists.
Many are familiar with Frank Zappa’s reputation as an eccentric, mustachioed wild man at the forefronts of both rock’n’roll and experimental music, yet with this in-depth documentary, director Alex Winter provides a nuanced portrait of the multifaceted, driven, sometimes difficult man behind the outsized persona. To make ZAPPA, Winter was given unlimited access to a trove of mostly unseen recordings and documents, allowing him to vividly illustrate the artist’s journey from his repressive childhood in Cold War suburbia, to his artistic and commercial heydays in the 1960s and 70s, to the unlikely crossover success of his novelty hit “Valley Girl.” Along the way, Winter provides ample evidence of Zappa’s serious musical brilliance and single-minded artistic ambition, which often came at the cost of his close relationships. Eschewing the pitfalls of many adulatory music docs, Winter has crafted an appreciative yet clear-eyed tribute to a man whose life was as varied and difficult to pin down as his music.
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