Director Thorsten Schütte’s doco splices together performance and interview footage of the ever-articulate rock star (and talk-show guest) Frank Zappa to recount the story of his defiantly non-conformist musical journey.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2016
Eat That Question draws together interview, concert and behind-the-scenes footage to provide a comprehensive introduction to Frank Zappa (1940-93), one of the rock era’s most idiosyncratic musicians.
“As a solo act or with his band the Mothers (originally called the Mothers of Invention), he has released roughly 70 albums, three feature films, multiple home video releases, and has written a musical and an autobiography. A 90-minute film is, for a true fan, just going to scratch the surface… but you aren’t going to catch me complaining. What we do get, in mostly chronological order, is Zappa’s philosophy refracted through most of his career highlights.
Zappa’s first albums in the late 1960s mixed doo-wop, guitars, snorting and grunting and cheeseball lyrics, but from the get-go he pitched himself as a composer of serious orchestral music. His idols were Igor Stravinsky, Edgar Varèse and Anton Webern, even if he looked like a burned-out pot dealer. His flamboyant appearance was a double-edged sword. It gave him great visibility, as did a famous poster of him sitting naked on the toilet (one that I owned until the woman who later became my wife said ‘this has to go’), but it attracted press headlines calling him a pervert. His lyrics aided in that corner as well, but for those willing to listen to his music (to open oneself up to excellence, Frank might say) there was a lot to offer.
Eat That Question does a good job of giving us just a taste of nearly every era in Zappa’s multifaceted career.” — Jordan Hoffman, The Guardian