Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Review: Gary Numan - Android In La La Land

Gary Numan: Android in La La Land
Cert: 15 / 85 mins / Dir. Steve Read & Rob Alexander / Trailer

Insert the obligatory ramble here about me not knowing how to adequately review documentaries, even though I mention that every time before I review a documentary and have now done so enough that it's no longer true. Steve Read and Rob Alexander began shooting a film in 2012 about the iconic musician Gary Numan, as he relocated to Los Angeles and around the production and release of the album Splinter. There was a special screening of it at my nearest independent cinema*1. And it is good.

I say this not as a particular fan of Numan's*2, it's more that Android In La La Land is a nicely-structured documentary. Although it's not a beginner's guide to his work, there's no price-of-entry when it comes to prior knowledge of Gary's work. Although because the events in the film are from four years ago, I don't think there'll be too much here that the hardcore fanbase aren't already aware of anyway. Still, horse's mouth, and that.

The most notable thing about the film is how relaxed and open Numan and his family are with the camera. There's an instant level of trust as Gary talks candidly about his Aspergers and the depression which resulted from years of bad-press. But the film observes these without playing them up or down. This is about Gary the person, not Gary the case-study, and director/producers Read and Alexander have a knack for bringing truth and warmth out of an industry where they're in short supply.

The screening was followed by a live Q&A by one of the film's directors, Steve Read. A very nice touch with a very focused and eloquent man, but the problem arises that if your documentary has done its job (and this one has) then there are relatively few questions to be asked (other than the technical ones which were on the tip of my tongue, but were raised by other members of the audience: around 500 hours of footage and one camera with two lenses). Under the normal run of things, this wouldn't be ideal for engaging the rest of the attendees. But as even Steve noted, the audience was made up of people who were either a) Gary Numan geeks, b) film-making geeks, or c) a&b, so it panned out largely satisfactorily, I think.

A well-made film about a fascinating and funny man, Android In La La Land is currently on a tour of the UK with Q&A sessions, with limited regular screenings elsewhere.

Hardcore fans of Gary Numan will either be more gushing or more critical, I'm not sure which.

So, watch this if you enjoyed?
Well, music documentaries. To be fair.

Should you watch this in a cinema, though?
If you get the chance, yes.
The film is an independent production which can use all the support you can give it

Does the film achieve what it sets out to do?
It does.

Is this the best work of the cast or director?
I haven't seen the directors' other features, so can't really say.
It's a great piece of film-making though

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?

Yes, but is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?

Yes, but what's the Star Wars connection?
Level 3: Mr Gary Numan featured in an episode of The Mighty Boosh alongside series regular Rich Fulcher, who's due to appear in the upcoming movie Abruptio starring James 'Captain Argyus' Marsters.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

*1 Which started late. Yeah, again. Seriously, I love that this independent cinema exists and I support them where I can (given that it's actually easier and cheaper for me to use their counterpart in the capital), but you've got one job, mate: Show the film at the time it says on the ticket. It's not like the buses where you're being held up by previous over-running screenings.

*2 I respect the fuck out of what Numan does, how he does it and how long he's been doing it for. I just don't particularly enjoy it, somehow. And don't give me "that would change if you saw him live", because I did and it didn't. Still enjoyed this film, though.

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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