Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Driving Me Crazy (1988) - Nick Broomfield

Utterly absorbing documentary about 80s über theatrical director André Heller, and his attempt to put on a 'black experience' show in Germany called Body and Soul. Broomfield starts the documentary with a whopping budget of $1,600,000 but within the first few minutes finds that figure slashed to $300,000. Not only that but the documentary producers want to possibly turn it into a film, and hire an actor/writer to create scenes about a fictitious producer. Now if that all sounds just a little weird then join the club. Broomfield himself only agrees to carry on with the project if everyone involved agrees to be filmed, he also openly admits that he is unsure of just what he is making.

Thus this becomes the first of Broomfield's films to feature him and his struggle to make a documentary. Broomfield takes center stage as he has done in so many of his documentaries, and just like his later work it works phenomenally well. So not only does he have the above to deal with but he also has the constant threat of the plug being pulled on the filming at any time. Mix into that the above average amount of egos at work, and you have not only a recipe for disaster but also something that will make you chuckle.

Body and Soul itself sounds like a terrible idea to my ears, and watching the rehearsals that take place in New York didn't do anything to alter my opinion. Obviously the film is peppered with moments that will make you cringe, but that's all part of Broomfield's schtick. For instance there is the day when the film crew repeatedly blow the fuses in the rehearsal space, or the time that the camera manages to smack into Mercedes Ellington's bonce. But of course this quickly becomes secondary to Nick's struggle with the money men, just witness the scene where they go through the footage shot so far and complain about just about everything they can.

Broomfield would eventually make all of his documentaries with this sort of template. His Big White Self, Biggie and Tupac and Kurt & Courtney all feature Nick front and center, and are as much about his attempt to overcome the obstacles of film making as the subjects in his viewfinder. Essential.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...