I'd been meaning to check this out for a while -- I saw a trailer for it last year, but it hardly got distributed at the time. So I won't be surprised if this is a nil thread.
The plot -- a father, living a reclusive existence in eastern England, signs away his twin sons to an unscrupulous manager. The gimmick is that the twins are conjoined. The brothers are sent to a country house to learn music and a band is formed around them, with the intention of them being a throwaway pop act, but later finding their voice as a proto-punk band on the pub rock circuit. The boys fall prey to excess, drugs and one of them falling in love with a music journalist.
It's filmed in a mock documentary style, which never fully works. And the characterisation is never enough to draw you into the twins' psyche. But it's an interesting film and probably worth watching when it inevitably turns up on Film Four. The period details are well done, but it's the songs and the concert footage that really stand out.
Posts: 6400 | From: Old München Town | Registered: Dec 2002
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These film threads don't attract too much action - my post was part of a forum sweep - trying to be the last poster on every forum and almost 15 hours later it was still the last post in the film forum.
Thanks for the warning about Bros of the Head - will give it a miss
Posts: 1904 | From: a grassy knoll | Registered: Jun 2003
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This has indeed turned up on Film4. I saw it last week and really enjoyed it.
Although it perhaps sets out too brazenly to be included in the list of cool rock films (This Is Spinal Tap, 24 Hour Party People, Hedwig And The Angry Inch, The Doors . . . OK, not The Doors) it still deserves to be there. The scenes in the band's mansion and particularly at their gigs look fantastic: dappled light, dark rooms and corridors, twanging guitars, beer and fags and sweat and nicely authentic mid-70s hair, all on wonderfully grainy 16mm. The songs (by Clive Langer) are good enough that you want to hear them, but not so good that you ever think The Bang Bang will really make it. The Treadway twins (real twins but not really conjoined) are brilliant as the band's frontfreak, Tom/Barry Howe - plenty of Jaggerish posh cool, and they nail that progression from petulant nobodies to even more petulant stars. Crucially, they stop the whole conjoined-twins idea from seeming like a cheap stunt. It works not just as a gawp-fest, and not just as a study of too-close siblings, but as a metaphor for creative partnerships. Specifically, it's about the relationship between singers and guitarists. Barry, the singer, is louder, ruder but more vulnerable; Tom, the main songwriter and guitarist, is apparently more sensible but perhaps deep down the angrier of the two. Making them literally the same person (in part) is genius. More obviously, films like this try to make you sympathise with annoying, selfish primadonnas; giving them an unimaginable physical deformity sorts that out at a stroke. Like the obvious influences on the film's odder moments (Cronenberg, Lynch), the conjoined-twin gimmick has a lot more going for it than ugh-look-at-that.
My favourite scene: in the country house that the virtually orphaned brothers live in with their band - a device that conveniently allows the film to take place entirely within a dissolute, bohemian bubble - Tom is gently strumming his new song to his scheming-journo girlfriend. It's called My Friend and it's rather lovely. But after a few verses Barry, who's previously not minded Tom having sex with this woman, starts saying things like "STOP PLAYING THAT FUCKING SONG" and "SHUT UP TOM. SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP". Tom tries to continue. Cut to the brothers singing a much faster, louder version of the song during a gig. Barry has changed some of the words, has also changed the title to My Friend (You Cunt), and is singing it right in the girlfriend's face. Tom plays guitar with his usual intensity.
Deadpan humour like this, playing on the posturing egos that butt up against each other in any decent rock band, is one way in which the film lifts itself above the average story-of-a-fictional-band movie. Another is the film within a film, a dramatisation of the band's story covered by the "documentary" we're watching. It stars Jonathan Pryce and Jane Horrocks and is directed by Ken Russell, who plays himself very convincingly. The opening shot of Brothers Of The Head, a terrifically creepy introduction to the windswept, reedy East Anglian wasteland where the brothers will lose their minds, turns out to be a clip from the Ken Russell film, and we regularly dip into it when there's a need for some gothic melodrama. It's the most awkward aspect of an awkwardly structured film, but it's done with such flair that the spell isn't broken.
Anyway, I recommend this. It's not perfect by any means - the ending in particular is weak, because it's inevitable in a dull way when it should have been inevitable in a tragic way. But it's well worth checking out, which you can do this Wednesday when Film4 are showing it again.
Posts: 8111 | From: London | Registered: May 2002
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