19 August 2009

Night Out at The Colony: "Frank Zappa's 200 Motels"

Taking a small break tonight from updating/blogging as I'm headed out to The Colony Theatre over in Raleigh to see Frank Zappa's 200 Motels", as part of their Cool Classics at The Colony movie series. (More information on that diverse series can be found here.)

Promotional poster for Frank Zappa's 200 Motels", 1971. Copyright acknowledgment extended to its respective owners.

I've always wanted to see "200 Motels" for a variety of reasons, ever since I first heard about while studying film in college. Supposedly featuring the story of a band on tour going from town to town (although there is a lot more to it, Zappa was known for 'layering' all of his projects with a variety of messages), the film was cheaply made in just about a week, features some guest cameos from Ringo Starr to Keith Moon to Motorhead, and then somehow thrown together after several people involved in its production hastily quit. (The ever-smooth and nostalgic "Almost Famous" it ain't, people.) Combine that with an equally-rushed soundtrack, and it's a surprise that the film ever got released...but it did, and by United Artists no less. And, from what I have been told/read before, it's also full of surprises (some of which really worked...and some of which did not). I get the impression "200 Motels" will either work in some weird sort of way or else be an epic fail for me. But honestly, those are always the best films to watch.

It should be an interesting show, and perhaps a pretty interesting crowd in attendance as well. While I'm not a fan of Zappa's music per se (sacrilege!), I do appreciate all that he was trying to do, as confusing as that sometimes came across. If you put any time into reading about Zappa, you'll discover very quickly what an unappreciated, unconventional genius he was. Like his music, I don't suspect this movie will ever be confused with being 'mainstream'...but then again, 'mainstream' has always been highly overrated.

I'm all for giving new films, or old films that featured some 'new' ideas, a look...creativity in cinema seems to be a bit of a dying art these days, so best enjoy it when you can. Tonight's showing is scheduled to start at about 8pm, although The Colony always throws in a number of era-appropriate trailers beforehand, many of which are some of the funniest (intentionally and otherwise) ever made. (Truly, they have trailers that should be in the Trailer Hall of Shame, and they are simply not to be missed.) Admission is $5 (cash only), and the fresh popcorn is really good.

UPDATE August 20..."200 Motels" review from last night: like Syd Barrett (the mentally ill frontman and founder of Pink Floyd) & Spinal Tap took a bad acid hit and then decided to make a musical, starring the The (adult) Teletubbies and Newman's (from the TV comedy "Seinfeld") hippie older brother. Pros: Keith Moon (from The Who) in drag as a nun. The "Ode to the Penis" part (actually it's called "The Penis Dimension") was pretty damn funny, too. Cons: the people up front should have shared what they had and passed it back, as it was needed by the rest of us. Even for Zappa, this was a bit much for me to completely appreciate. Recommendations: only watch if under the influence, perhaps heavily even.

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