Sunday, 3 April 2011

Head (1968) - Bob Rafelson

In 1970 Bob Rafelson and Jack Nicholson made Five Easy Pieces. A film which would shape the way the better dramas of the coming decade would be crafted. Small, intimate, well written and acted and shot through with an indie sensibility. Before that though they set about deconstructing the popular modern beat combo The Monkees. Rafelson had produced/written/directed their TV show and had obviously decided that it was time for things to move on. So when it came for them to make their first (and last) feature film Davy, Mike, Pete and Micky (The Monkees) along with Nicholson (writing) and Rafelson (writing and directing) went all out to address the things that weren't allowed on the TV series.

So we get subtle (and not so subtle) drug references, lots of Vietnam footage and of course loads of the lads sticking it to the man. There's no real plot, more just a series of interconnecting vignettes. Which is all fab gear for the first half hour or so, but after that it just drags. There's none of the zaniness of the series, which isn't a problem, but there isn't really anything funny in here either. For all it's shouting it doesn't have much to say beyond, 'um WAR isn't good, you dig' either. So quite a hollow 85 minutes then. It's not as bad as The Beatles Magical Mystery Tour, but that was at least saved by having a soundtrack to die for.

Ah yes the music, well it's actually pretty good, the film kicks off and ends with one of The Monkees best moments - Porpoise Song. There are a few cameos too, we get Zappa waxing forth about how the boys should stick to music, Dennis Hopper walks through the frame at one point, as do Rafelson and Nicholson. There's plenty of late 60's playfulness too, camera equipment in full view, and continual reminders that this is a film, so people walk off sets or break out of character half way through a scene. Wacky groovy et cetera.

Head tanked at the cinema, the hipsters that would have lapped this up would never go and see something staring that most manufactured of bands - The Monkees, and The Monkees audience were too young to get in and see the film. Ho hum. If you like this sort of thing then maybe this is for you, although I'd say you're better off with something like Jodorowsky's The Holy Mountain, which is amazing, trippy, beautifully directed, has a better soundtrack and is still like really far out man.

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