Review by Victoria Large
Posted on 10 May 2010
Source 35mm print
Categories The 2010 Independent Film Festival Boston
Among the charms of the Independent Film Festival of Boston are the enthusiastic hometown crowds who turn out for local filmmakers and flicks with a markedly Boston bent. This year Do It Again, directed by Emerson College professor Robert Patton-Spruill and featuring Boston Globe music writer Geoff Edgers, was a big Saturday night draw, with some diehard fans of British rock legends The Kinks rounding out the massive crowd. The documentary, named for a cut off of The Kinks’ 1984 album Word of Mouth, follows Edgers on an obsessive quest to reunite the now-disbanded group. It won’t spoil the movie if I tell you that Edgers doesn’t succeed. Cheesy as this sounds, Do It Again is about a journey rather than a destination.
Edgers himself is in a place of considerable uncertainty when the film begins. Faced with the erosion of the newspaper industry and its particularly dire effect on those who write about the arts, Edgers reminisces about his days as a musician (in high school) and admits that he wishes he’d kept it up. Unable to turn back the clock to the halcyon days of high school – or even the days of greater stability in the print media world – Edgers attempts to attain something else that’s seemingly unattainable when he tries to pick up the pieces and mend the rifts between the founding members of The Kinks, especially estranged brothers Ray and Dave Davies.
Along the way, he consults a variety of musicians who also happen to be Kinks fans, including The Jam’s Paul Weller, who declines Edgers’ invitation to play a Kinks song with him on the grounds that it’s “a bit naff;” actress and chanteuse Zooey Deschanel, who cracks up over The Kinks’ undeniably silly track “Phenomenal Cat;” and Sting, who proves a remarkably good sport when faced with Edgers’ questioning. Robyn Hitchcock provides some of the film’s most insightful and hilarious commentary when he suggests that bands aren’t meant to last, “like the orgasm and the sneeze,” and his bandmates in the Venus 3 join Edgers in a sweetly satisfying jam session (which was roundly applauded at my screening). Eventually, Edgers meets with Kinks singer and guitarist Dave Davies, and even if it doesn’t result in the sought-after band reunion, it does provide the film with an appropriate emotional climax, part-celebratory and part-sad.
The Kinks fans in the house seemed to love the film, and there are some interesting details regarding the band’s still-dedicated fan base, who take Kinks-themed tours of London and put on an annual convention, but Do It Again isn’t just about The Kinks or their fans. Instead, it’s a film that does a fair job of capturing the passion that any set of fans feel for the music that caught them and never let them go, and it’s also simply an enjoyable adventure to take. Edgers has a lot of fun in the process of not getting what he wants. It’s a film with a great deal of underdog charm: a low budget feature about an implausible goal, Do It Again is doubly quixotic. (To wit: an early scene finds Edgers busking for change on Boston Common to help fund the movie. A strange dancing man who donates sixty-one cents is credited as Do It Again’s first investor.) It’s to the filmmakers’ credit that one leaves the theater feeling that even dreams that don’t come true can be worthwhile.
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