Friday, September 24, 2010

A Fun Film For Dedicated Followers of The Kinks, But Not A Heroic Piece of Celluloid - Movie Review: Do It Again

Movie Review

Do It Again
a documentary written by & starring Geoff Edgers about his quest to reunite The Kinks; directed by Robert Patton-Spruill

I would like to presume that among most rock historians and avid fans, the Mt. Rushmore of British Invasion bands would include The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who and The Kinks (yes, I know it'd be hard to fit all the members on a mountainside and that The Who didn't surface until '65, a trifle later than the others).

But ever since introducing themselves to American audiences in 1964 with the great 1-2 punch of "You Really Got Me" and "All Day and All the Night," The Kinks have lagged far behind their brethren in popularity, despite a comparable output of phenomenal, critically-revered music (as their discography attests).

I became a big Kinks fan in the early '80s and had the pleasure of seeing them three times ('83, '87, '93) while never quite grasping why they were relegated to playing small arenas and half-filled outdoor amphitheaters as The Stones, Who and Paul McCartney continued to fill football stadiums. I don't recall ever hearing of an official Kinks break-up, but whatever hiatus they may have initially been on soon became permanent, as they stopped touring and putting out albums. And when I heard that guitarist Dave Davies suffered a stroke in 2004, after his brother Ray--the head Kink--got shot on the streets of New Orleans (but fortunately wasn't critically wounded ), I pretty much presumed The Kinks would never be whole again.

But despite putting out a pair of stellar albums over the past five years, better in fact than his latter-day Kinks output, and touring solo (see my review of his stellar Chicago show in March), Ray Davies had recently been rather vocal about his desire to reunite the Kinks. Yet while this Rolling Stone piece from Sept. 2008 spoke to the possibility, it became apparent that the band, for one reason or another, just wasn't getting back together. At least not the four original members, who were all still alive until bassist Pete Quaife died this past June.

So when I heard about a new movie called Do It Again, billed as "one man's quest to reunite The Kinks," it sounded a day late and a dollar short. But I still had to see it, for any movie about the Kinks can't be all that bad and I had read some pretty positive reviews. The Chicago International Movies and Music Festival ( seems to largely be an event taking place next April--held a showing last night at the Metro, long one of Chicago best live music venues.

My friend Dave and I arrived for the only known showing in the Chicagoland area--a region of over 8 million people--and found a total of five fellow Kinks fanatics already there. The audience swelled to about 18 once the film began, but somewhat debunking the movie's premise, or at least its stated purpose, it doesn't appear that the general public is really clamoring for a Kinks reunion. Ray Davies didn't sell out the 2,500 capacity Riviera in March and my guess is The Kinks today might draw at best 10,000 fans in Chicago--make it a festival with a reunited Jam, Smiths & Blur and perhaps 20,000 folks might join me--so imagine the crowds when The Kinks would hit Kansas City and Des Moines.

The film, somewhat properly a 'Low Budget' affair,' was written by and centers around Geoff Edgers, an arts writer for the Boston Globe, who decides it's his mission to try to reunite the Kinks. I applaud his passion to shed greater light on one of the most criminally under-appreciated bands in history, and overall the movie was enjoyable. But it did seem that:

A) It was more about Edgers wanting to make a documentary about trying to reunite the Kinks than showcasing any real legitimate aim, expectation or reason to bring them back together.

B) Its only real appeal is to hardcore Kinks fans, unlike great documentaries that are compelling even to those uninitiated to its subject matter. I really can't recommend this film to non-Kinks aficionados, not even as a way to generate new fans, as a decent Behind The Music episode would tell anyone considerably more about the Kinks and their music.

C) Hearty Kinks fans like me were left with more of a distaste for Ray's personality and his treatment of Dave over the years than I really wanted to know about.

So without a truly viable or even novel mission--as Ray had beaten him to the punch in terms of pining for a Kinks reunion but being unable to make it happen--and negligible appeal for anyone other than ardent Kinkophiles--as the mid-life crisis, bickering wife, job troubles in this economy, seeking a sense of purpose story Edgers tells about himself has been better told elsewhere--what we are left with is a movie of Edgers conducting interviews with people who generally have great things to say about the Kinks.

Some of this is a lot of fun. Interviews with musicians like Paul Weller (of the Jam), Warren Zanes (Del Fuegos), Peter Buck (R.E.M.), Robyn Hitchcock (the Soft Boys), Sting (the Police) and singer-actress Zooey Deschanel--who is included because she was seen having a large, Kinkless record collection in Almost Famous--shed some enjoyable insight, as do talks with early Kinks producer Shel Talmy, record mogul Clive Davis and a smattering of original and replacement Kinks (I won't give away who chooses to participate in the film or Edgers' attempts to bring them together).

Buck, along with R.E.M. touring sideman Scott McCaughey, makes a good point about how R.E.M. has always functioned as a democracy with shared songwriting credits, but that bands in which one person is the clear leader and chief songwriter invariably run into the same problems most autocracies do.

And while Edgers' attempts to get many of his interview subjects to sing Kinks songs with him comes off a bit obnoxious--especially when he was told in advance of their unwillingness--it is great when he gets Sting to play a Kinks Klassic, and Buck/McCaughey's sweet take on "Get Back into Line" redeems the previous scene in which Edgers--seemingly out of nowhere--is seen complaining about his union after having to accept a pay cut.

I don't think I'll be giving away the movie's ending to say that as of this writing, The Kinks have not reunited. And given Quaife's passing, the original lineup obviously never will. While I would love to Ray and Dave back onstage again, the truth is that it doesn't seem like that great, or necessary, an idea. The Kinks had a 30+ year run, the last decade of which was clearly their worst. Dave ( seems to relatively healthy, happy and active while Ray ( is making great music on his own and plays plenty of Kinks songs when he tours solo. His newest project, See My Friends, a collection of duets on Kinks tunes with the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Metallica, Jackson Browne, Jon Bon Jovi and Billy Corgan, sounds intriguing. And as he once so eloquently sang: 

I know you've got a lot of good things happening up ahead
The past is gone it's all been said
So here's to what the future brings,
I know tomorrow you'll find better things

The Kinks will always be a @@@@@, Absolutely Phenomenal band. The movie, Do It Again, is @@@, Good But Not Great. See it if you're a Kinks fan--if you can find it; for now it's sporadically playing festivals and isn't yet available on DVD, although the screening I saw was just a DVD, not celluloid--but probably skip it if you're not.

Although you should be. And since you're here, these are just a few of my favorite Kinks songs:


Yaz 08 said...

You made a pretty big error by not crediting the direction of "Do It Again" to Robert Patton-Spruill. I think you've made a bigger error by dismissing this entertaining film. I have seen it twice and it is funny, ballsy, and ultimately moving. Geoff Edger's quest was a noble one, and he laid his passion for the Kinks on the line for all to see. He deserves better things than your review.

Seth Arkin said...

Thank you Yaz for pointing out my mistake; I have now properly credited Robert Patton-Spruill as the film's director.

I am glad you enjoyed the movie more than I did. I don't think I quite dismissed it in calling it "good but not great" but did think there were a number of flaws, along with several enjoyable aspects.

Believe me, as a Kinks fan who spent 2-1/2 hours getting to and from the one showing in Chicago, I wanted to absolutely love the film. But in being fair, I couldn't say that I did, even if it means I'm not like everybody else.