Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Is It Really So Strange|
Actor: William E. Jones
Genres: Drama, Television
As the foppish, sexually ambiguous, brilliant singer/songwriter of `80s music legends The Smiths, Morrissey brought intelligence, wit and mystery to pop tunes still unmatched in their ability to make grown men cry. In this... more »
A wonderful movie
aliasnevermind | California | 07/22/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Is It Really So Strange? is a rarity: a documentary about musical culture that is not an advertisement for the music industry. The interviews, while "unprofessional" and rough, are intimate and touching. Jones cares enough about his subjects to allow them to speak for themselves at length, rather than relegating them to sound bites. All of the previous efforts to document the Morrissey fan scene have treated their subjects with a thinly veiled contempt, and Jones's film is a refreshing departure from "business as usual" in this regard. The voice over is spare and illuminating, relating many insights that have occurred to someone who has been listening to pop music for decades. Though the people in the film are a generation younger than the filmmaker, he finds a way to relate to them that does not smack of condescension. He hints that there is a darker side to this celebrity worship, and shows fans in various states of obsession and disillusionment. The project was obviously a labor of love, and bears witness to years of work. There is not a wasted word or image in the piece. Is It Really So Strange? is essential viewing for anyone who has an interest in contemporary Latino culture, the subculture of fans, or the sweet, sad passage from youth to adulthood."
Not a complete waste of time, but ...
James S. | Chicago | 03/26/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"What's strange, here, for one, is that the filmmaker set out to explore the Latino cult of Morrissey, but he doesn't limit his interviews to Latinos and a couple of his better interview subjects basically said it was blown out of proportion, since LA is Morrissey's biggest fanbase and LA is majority Latino, as well as the fact that, yes, Morrissey has Latino fans, but they are but one segment of his fandom. So, he kind of quickly loses focus there.
And unless you are an absolutely fanatical Moz fan, you will quickly lose patience with this documentary. The people who are interviewed are great [well, for the most part], but the doc is put together so badly that it's a struggle not to lose interest in it. Such as: NO music is used in the actual film, except for at the very end, which begs the question, if you can play a Smiths song over the credits, why couldn't you play any during the actual film? and if you couldn't play any due to licensing, etc., why not play some music by the Smiths cover band or have someone pick up a guitar or something or play some music, even Mexican music, that is evocative of Morrissey's?
Then there is the voiceover by Mr. Jones, who may be good getting people together for interviews, but he's not a terribly engaging fellow and his narrative is painful to listen to -- it's slow and plodding and his voice has no personality to it whatsoever. Then we get to watch him talk about how he found the Smiths, while he sllloooowllly flips through a few Smiths albums. And then, and then, he puts the records on, and ... nothing - no sound, no music, just the sound of people screaming. The interviews could have been better, as well. It's like he started doing a 'Latin cult of Morrissey' doc, but then he veers off here and there, interviews non-Latinos but then in the end comes back to the Latino Morrissey scene. This documentary could have been split up into about three or four separate films [with music, hopefully] on different fan groups.
The interviews sometimes are odd, as well, since someone will be talking and the camera will focus on their cat, or their family photos on the wall.
This wasn't an altogether horrible film, but it needed a different narrator, an editor, some music and a better interviewer. It is nice, though, to hear other people, most of them pretty thoughtful and intelligent, talk about Morrissey. The conclusion that Jones makes at the end, that the 'Morrissey scene' is over, is untrue, but I guess it gives him an easy way to end the film. The scene with the little kid dancing in front of the Moz poster is cute, though."