13 April 2008

Is It Really So Strange?

Is It Really So Strange? introduces itself as a look into Morrissey and The Smiths' Latino fanbase, but it really amounts to a simple interview hodgepodge about everything involved in Moz hero-worship. This isn't entirely bad (such idolatry is what brought us to Manchester's finest in the first place), but the film feels incomplete and unfocused -- its monotone narration, lifeless static shots and editing, and queer-centered kino eye make it the most "San Francisco" doc we've shown. Watching this, The Highland Cinema felt like we were both UCB lecture hall and KQED-informed East Bay sublet.

But to get back on track, Is It Really So Strange? has at least one surprisingly effective moment early on as director William E Jones reaches for his introductory thesis. His ten minute Burns-esque photograph montage of the real HelL-A, the one of polluted sprawl, third generation immigrants, and plain old regular folks is the most honest depiction of California livin' we think we could ever see. It's too bad Jones doesn't delve deeper into this idea of working class suburbs and Taquerias as hotbeds of "Suedehead" worship. While nearly all of his interview subjects are of non-Caucasian descent, the interviews themselves are little more than a litany of fanboy recollections involving KROQ's Smiths airplay, Tower Records Morrissey spottings, and pompadour upkeep. The love both for and of Steven Patrick Morrissey is made rather apparent (as is Morrissey's perfectly calculated iconic persona), but there's no story here. And half of these guys get the song titles wrong. Some fans -- sheesh!

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