Sweet - you need to know about this guy!
Maul Calloway | Montreal, Quebec Canada | 05/16/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I *love* Wesley Willis - in today's music world where every act seems to come out of either a photocopy machine or a tin can, and where image matters more than the actual music, here's someone who's not afraid to be himself and just be creative in his own very special way.
This film is a window into this guy's life - you'd figure a documentary about a 400 pound schizophrenic rock hero who writes beastiality songs and songs about whupping super-heroes' behinds on top of pieces about real and imagined crimes would be full of psychiatric analysis of the man, but instead we just get to hang around with him as he goes to the zoo, writes his songs and visits his old friends. It might be interesting to know some historical or medical details, but it wouldn't have fit in with the rest of the film, and also you get to just feel like he's an interesting guy and that you don't really need to know his personal details any more than you would snoop around about one of your friends or acquaintances. It's lo-fi, kind of a Gummo-style trip but somehow I couldn't imagine it any other way. What's best is that it's not insulting or condescending towards him in anyway. Instead of a freak show or an alienated analysis of an 'outsider' artist, you realize that people just genuinely love him and relate to him. Plus it's just hilarious.If you want something human in this world of robot borg wanna be's this will get you back in touch with your creative side."
Rock and Roll Kinko's
Robert P. Beveridge | Cleveland, OH | 01/03/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Wesley Willis: The Daddy of Rock 'n Roll (Daniel Bitton, 2003)
Whatever you may think of the late Wesley Willis, the towering schizophrenic rock and roll disciple whose music evokes hero-worship among the few and looks of utter confusion among the many, there is one unarguable fact about him: never in the history of rock and roll has there been a less likely rock star than Wesley Willis. Here's a guy who stands six foot six, weighs well over three hundred pounds, and dresses in neon green sweat pants; if there is a defined rock-star look, that is certainly not it. And yet Wesley Willis' music embodies both everything good and everything bad about rock at the same time; it's simplistic to the point of brainlessness, it's repetitive, it's scurrilous and obscene and deeply, deeply funny. It points, at the same time, to the pioneers who have carved out niches in rock over the years and the brainlessness of the overprocessed radio-friendly crap that dominates the airwaves today. Despite this, Wesley Willis created music for which the term "original" would be an understatement. What better subject for a musical documentary?
Filmmaker Daniel Bitton's hour-long Wesley Willis special is a "day in the life" kind of thing, following Willis around and staying out of the way, letting the man's words and actions speak for themselves. Willis is, in many ways, like any of us; he goes to Kinko's to use the computer to type out lyrics, much to the consternation of the other patrons (having a huge black guy suddenly say "suck a baboon's dick with Heinz Ketchup!" next to you is probably not the most reassuring thing that will happen to you on any given day), he goes to the studio and records a few tracks, he noodles with a synthesizer at home, he rides the bus, he talks to people, he sees his friends, he performs a concert, he goes to sleep. So, okay, that's probably not like most of us. And even for those of us it is like, you don't have friends like Steve Albini doing your engineering at the studio. But still, there's a comforting tranquility to all this. Here's a guy who's sold more albums than you ever will, and he's gotta use a bus pass just like everyone else.
It should be obvious form the get-go that whether you like this movie or not will be inextricably tied to whether you like Wesley Willis or not. That said, I've seen some music documentaries that I've hated even when I love the band(s) in question. This is not one of those documentaries; if you like Wesley Willis, you'll like The Daddy of Rock 'n Roll. Rock over London. Rock on, Chicago. *** ½"