RADIOHEAD DOCUMENTARY IS WORTH ITS WEIGHT IN SPADES.
aquarices | 07/06/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The consummate Radiohead fan will absolutely adore this video-documentary. Thom Yorke not only establishes himself as a great live performer via snippets of live concert footage, but he also paves the way for his band's ascent as an all-encompassing experience beyond the generic trivialities of being a "rock group" - whatever that term happens to mean today. I have always maintained that Radiohead was and is a band for the next millenium, consistenly producing music head-and-shoulders above their contemporaries. What's more is that Radiohead have become far more than a purely musical experience, and this film emphasizes all these intangibles. Radiohead's outlook has forever seemed to be deeply rooted in a frenetic paranoia, in man's routine struggles against the relentless oppression of technology and the future, and the fight against the loss of self-awareness under the onslaught of the corporate mentality, and the Orwellian shackles that are becoming more and more prevalent in our everyday society. Most every Radiohead song seems to evoke the feel and mood that Big Brother is indeed, watching. The fact that this menacing outlook comes across in beautiful melodies stemming from the voice of an enchanting frontman only makes the experience that much more spectacular. This film takes you through Radiohead's touring persona, so to speak, from Yorke warming up his vocal cords before a concert, to producers polishing off the final touches on a video release, to band members handling the pressures of often prying media. Meeting People Is Easy is masterfully psychedelic and ominously dreary, but cannot be denied as an absolute work of art... What a fitting way to steal a peek into the goings-on of the world's best rock and roll band!"
Not your typical band DVD (and that's a good thing)
aquarices | USA | 05/14/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"For those of you expecting tons of live concert footage, unreleased songs, and lots of insight into the thought processes of one of the greatest bands of all time, you may be disappointed. That's not to say there isn't any live footage or interviews. There's quite a bit, actually, but it's not the focus of the film and most, if not all, of the songs and interviews are not shown in their entirety. Instead you get snippets. There is some interesting footage that shows the origins of songs on Kid A/Amnesiac, such as the piano part of "Life in a Glasshouse" being written, and Thom Yorke soundchecking "How to Disappear Completely" alone with an acoustic guitar (an amazing scene). I think "Big Ideas" is in there somewhere too. That being said, this film/documentary is much more of a story about the impact of stardom on otherwise ordinary people than an in depth look into the workings and dynamics of the band. That is why so many were disappointed with this, and that is also what makes it so damn interesting.
I think this film can best be explained by describing one scene: the movie fades from live footage of the band (playing "Lucky", my favorite Radiohead song) into a bunch of press clippings about "OK Computer", most of them claiming to know exactly what the band was thinking behind each song. The preeminent (and least pretentious) one says something like this: "You're a band. You've had some moderate success with your first 2 albums. You release your third album, which you quite like. No big deal, that's what bands do. Then, out of nowhere, you're being hailed as the saviors of rock n' roll." That is what this film is about.
Almost overnight, Radiohead went from cult favorite to some and "that band that wrote Creep" to many, into musical gods. Love the scene where they're playing "Creep" in Philly and Thom looks incredibly disinterested as he limply holds the mic to the crowd as they're singing along. Then the camera beautifully pans all the way back from a zoomed in shot of Thom to a view of the stage through one of the entrance/exit tunnels, complete with a hired goon (also known as security) in the shadows of the tunnel watching out for riff-raff. Then Jonny's "jud-jud" part kicks in and the goon is rocking out while he looks for said riff-raff. Sublime.
The most poignant scenes are not the concerts, but those of the band being interviewed. Again, and again, and again, and again. At one point they play about 5 different clips of people asking "What does music mean to you?" back to back without playing their responses. The point is not to give you some kind of insight into the people who comprise the band, but to show the effects of stardom on people who are not consumed with being stars. The sheer banality of it all must be quite tiring.
All of the hype and attention starts to crack some members of the band. They are all very uncomfortable with their new found celebrity status, and it shows. One interviewer continually badgers Thom Yorke about all the celebrities attending their shows, in an unintentionally amusing, ESPN anchor/radio DJ-esque tone of voice: "So you're not impressed when, say, Tom Cruise is at your concert?" Thom does not look (nor act) impressed and then calmly explains that in England they do not quite comprehend the God-like status given to celebrities here in America. In the end, celebrities are people like everybody else, just as fallible as you and me.
This film is about so much more than music, and that is what makes it worth watching. It is about fame and celebrity, about the loss of privacy, about having to live up to unrealistic expectations from people who know next to nothing about you, yet they feel they understand you completely. The title itself speaks volumes. Meeting people might be "easier" for the members of Radiohead now that they are famous, but are they really meeting anybody worth their time? This film was not what I expected but I was more than pleasantly surprised. It may take a couple viewings for it to sink in, but this film is amazing. It seems fairly obvious why "Kid A" sounds as claustrophobic as it does after watching this documentary. If you were in a band that went through this, you would make claustrophobic sounding music too.
I've read through some of the negative reviews and their complaints aren't totally without merit. Still, I can't help but think that most of them are simply missing the point. If "artsy" films aren't your thing, you might not get it. If you're one of those people who needs everything spelled out for you and doesn't understand subtlety, you might not get it. Even if you fall into one of those categories, at least give this film a try. I don't think you'll be disappointed, but you might. If you do like artistic films and you understand what the filmmaker is doing, you will love this movie."
Gets better with each viewing
Elmer Craven | Union City, CA United States | 10/02/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"*PLEASE* ignore the vapid MTV morons that have given this bad reviews, if you are genuinely into Radiohead, and don't just blindly swallow the latest 'fashionable' band that the music media shoves down your throat, then fear not, you will get it. Its different and for me, takes repeated viewings, with each one proving more rewarding. The upshot of it all is that I feel I know the personalities of the individual Radiohead members, from the intermittent snatches of interviews and incidents, a hundred times better than could ever be possible with your garden variety VH1 'rockumentary'. For example, Thom Yorke's responses to a clueless interviewer's questions about celebs at their gigs or his half bored/half bemused expression as he holds the microphone to a crowd bellowing the lyrics of Creep are invaluable."
So you wanna be a rock star . . .
Tom Huston | Lenox, MA USA | 12/11/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This brilliantly edited film has one objective: to slap you in the face and scream into your ear dying whispers of how pleasurable being a rock star actually is. Shot on tour mostly in 1997 by Grant Gee, it captures the nitty gritty details of backstage boredom, onstage exhiliration, and the highs and lows of endless press junkets, award ceremonies, and song composing. Be forewarned, though: the lows and boredom definitely outweigh everything else. Thom Yorke comes across as the most introverted and sullen soul who ever walked the earth. His brief smiles--mostly sardonic--are the high points of the film, but they occur too infrequently to leave the viewer with anything other than a nagging sympathy for this poor man. Depression and the stark harshness of reality seem to be the recurrent themes here.But don't let that put you off entirely. This film does have a certain redemption. It shows you exactly what happens when you put a group of extremely intelligent, creative, and profound souls into the ignorant, monotonous, shallow world of stardom. (This should prove especially poignant for Americans, who are used to living in a society whose sole purpose is to worship celebrity.) The Radiohead boys take it all in stride, though, and they manage to do so without any sign of superiority or arrogance. One factor that radiates clearly from every scene is the amazing integrity of these men. Honesty, depth, and introspective objectivity arise to combat the sad delusions that seem to surround these guys everywhere they go. Memorable moments include Thom's semi-pretentious boredom as he watches a concert crowd sing "Creep" for him, before he finally gives in, mocks the song a bit in a whining voice, then resigns to the power of his own creation and croons "I don't belong here" with all his heart. Also memorable is an intriguing edit that makes a series of photographic clicks and altered poses look like Thom is getting riddled with machine gun fire. I don't recall any complete songs, except for, not-so-coincidentally, "Exit Music (for a film)" as the credits roll, but everything from _OK Computer_ seems to be in there, in some form or another, as well as a number of old songs (and unreleased new ones). If you're a Radiohead fan, watch it to gain a deeper appreciation for the integrity and brilliance of this band. If you're an aspiring rock star, watch it for the clearest warning you're ever going to get. And everyone else, well, go watch _Spice World_."
Radiohead film documents new perspective on rock
D. Goodwin | Atlanta, GA | 12/14/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Meeting People is Easy is SO different from the typical 'rock home video,' it's appalling. With a band as deliberately obtuse as Radiohead, it's no surprise, and it's no surprise that it's great. Delving into the psyche of the band as they are in the hurricane of the 97-98 'OK Computer' tour, it shows the absolute craziness and instability of the tour and how it taxes the mind; all in preparation for the couple of hours on stage night after night.Grant Gee's cinematography is incredible, filled with unique imagery that fits with Radiohead's aesthetic. It really gives the viewer a sense of what the band is feeling (even though it might force the sense of drudgery and paranoia upon the viewer at times).Even if you're not a fan of the band, you should watch 'Meeting People Is Easy,' just on its merits as a film. If you like the band, as I do, you'll find it even more intriguing."