By Mark Saldana
Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)
Four years ago, I was, for the first time, introduced to artisty and idiosyncratic behavior of one Frank Zappa. This introduction was not in real life, of course, but through a documentary titled Eat That Question: Frank Zappa In His Own Words. Though this solid documentary gave me a sort of crash course to Zappa the artist and Zappa “the freak,” I feel that the film barely scratched the surface on who the man was.
Director Alex Winter has a new documentary, simply titled Zappa. Though he kept the title brief, his film gives audiences and Zappa fans a more comprehensive and personal look at Zappa’s life, philosophy, and his passions. It is a great documentary that offers much insight on not just the artist and “madman,” but also the husband and father.
Winter definitely benefits from the Zappa family’s blessings and support. The filmmaker had access to lots of archival footage and was able to interview some of the surviving friends and family who knew him best. It is a film that honors and celebrates Frank Zappa’s underappreciated contributions to music and pop culture. It also acknowledges the artist as an intelligent and thoughtful activist who fought back when the U.S. government threatened the music industry with censorship.
One doesn’t have to be a fan of Frank Zappa to appreciate this film. As for myself, I didn’t used to be a fan of his music, but have grown to appreciate it more, having watched two documentaries about him. Without a doubt, Frank Zappa lived a fascinating life, rich with experience, and created music that continues to marvel people to this day. Alex Winter has made a wonderful and enjoyable documentary that Zappa and his fans truly deserve.