SXSW FILM FESTIVAL
SXSW Review: Bananaz
by Ken Evans
March 14, 2008
Not all documentaries at SXSW can be good and last Wednesday night I saw one of those docs - Bananaz. During the course of this week the other film buffs and I have discussed documentaries and what makes them good. From what I have gathered after the discussions it really comes down to structure, purpose and some kind of connection with the subject of the film. I realize that there are those documentaries that are 90% information for learning purposes, but even those would benefit from adding a bit of fun to their films.
Bananaz is a string of what looks like home videos, chronicling events of the animated band Gorillaz. Director Ceri Levy followed the band over a six year period trying to capture the essence of the creators, Jamie Hewlett and Damon Albarn (frontman for Blur). We get to see glimpses into the animation and design process for their cartoon band members, plus clips from a few of the live shows.
Unfortunately, not much of anything in this film was enjoyable. I'll admit to saying there were a few scenes that were interesting, but never really enjoyable. Damon Albarn luckily turned out to have a unique personality that came through some of the time. Too bad we didn't really care about him or anything he did. This really is a behind-the-scenes look into who the real life people are behind the animated characters of Gorillaz. Too bad the animated band is leaps and bounds more interesting than Hewlett or Albarn alone.
This turned out to be a great sell to the hardcore fans of Gorillaz, but I doubt anyone else would be interested in it. I'm not a huge fan of the band, although I do like and can appreciate their music. Even more then that, I love the concept and presentation of the band as a pure animated one. Looks like they should have stuck with that concept and never opened up to the world behind the cartoon. This was the first film at SXSW where I actually looked at my watch to see if it was almost over. This is going to be one solely for the true Gorillaz fans who can't get enough of the band. Be warned, however, this definitely spoils the mystery behind what might have gotten you involved in their music in the first place.