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I think God just got sick of all that 70s excess…

June 8, 2010

One of my favorite movies EVAR is the 1998 music movie “Still Crazy.” Directed by Brian Gibson (“What’s Love Got To Do With It”), the movie follows seminal 70s rock band Strange Fruit in their struggle to reunite 20 years after their final show, which ended when God smote the stage with lightening. The band has to deal with their egos, old wounds, and the death of one of the founding members and heart of the band. 

The movie stars Stephen Rea (“The Crying Game” and, as I knew him, the “weird-ass mime vampire dude from ‘Interview With The Vampire'”), Bill Nighy (“Love Actually” and “Underworld”), Timothy Spall (Peter Pettigrew in the Harry Potter movies), Jimmy Nail (who hadn’t done much acting before this), and Billy Connolly (stand-up comedian, Il Duce in “The Boondock Saints”). Connolly plays the “roaddog” for the band, who tells them that they’d better be “still crazy” or he was going to leave. 

The story is simple: the band breaks up, 20 years later reunites, get their shit together, then they break up again just before the really big show. But then, thanks to a convenient plot twist (that makes me a bit misty every time), they reform and play the most EPIC SHOW OF ALL EPIC SHOWS EVARRRRRR.

I didn’t see the movie when it first came out. My best friend showed it to me in 2003, because he thought I’d appreciate the story and the music. And I did. For me, it’s one of those movies that gets almost everything right: the European clubs the band has to play in are small, crowded, and dirty; the music is believable as 70s rock (for the most part); the music industry reps are the right sort of asshats that you’d expect to say “No, these guys are too old, no one wants to listen to them!”

But to me, the real heart of the movie is how the characters interact with each other, how they play off and feed off of each other to make the story move forward. They are perfect representations of real people, flawed screw-ups who try to do the best they can. They try to fix themselves, and each other, and somehow wind up okay in the end. As Hughie says in the end, “And how will the Fruits conspire to bollocks it up this time? We wait with bated breath.” That line sums up the human condition to me: we succeed, we fail, we rinse and repeat. And sometimes, we can have fun doing it.

The music in the movie was written by members of Argent (“Hold Your Head Up” and “God Gave Rock and Roll To You”–Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey, whoooooo!) and Squeeze (“Pulling Mussels(From a Shell)”). So it’s got some cheesy 70s qualities to it, while still being catchy and kinda…awesome.

My favorite song from the movie is “All Over The World.”

The biggest problem I have with the movie is that, well, the quality of the music is too good. When the band “sucks,” they still sound great. 

“Still Crazy” isn’t a terribly deep movie, but it is a good one. It’s a fun ride, and makes me tear up a little bit at the end.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. June 8, 2010 3:33 pm

    This movie, with its cast of criminally underrated scene stealers (Nighy and Connolly) has been immediately added to the queue. This thing sounds incredibly. Thank you for this catch. Is there any performance that stands out to you? Or is it hard to single one out?

  2. evmaroon permalink
    June 8, 2010 3:57 pm

    Would this work in a double feature with Spinal Tap? Or not?

  3. June 8, 2010 6:56 pm

    I love love love finding out new stuff. The mention of Squeeze (an old fave band of mine) got me curious so I checked out the IMDB credits and also found Paul Carrack in the music department on Hammond. Carrack is probably best known for singing hits with Ace (“How Long”), Squeeze (“Tempted”) and Mike and the Mechanics (“Living Years”).

    Like Snarky’s I’m definitely adding this to my queue.

  4. June 8, 2010 8:27 pm

    I think my favorite performance in the movie is either Bill Nighy or Timothy Spall. Nighy is his usual over the top self, so it’s not really his performance that is brilliant, it’s the character. You meet him at his daughter’s wedding, and his toast is…magical.

    I think this movie would pair well with Spinal Tap; Still Crazy is like Spinal Tap’s more melodramatic, quirky-yet-serious cousin.

  5. June 9, 2010 3:52 pm

    I’ll put this in my queue too. Since everyone else is doing it.

  6. June 9, 2010 5:08 pm

    Nighy is his usual over the top self, so it’s not really his performance that is brilliant, it’s the character.

    I came to know his work through his hilarious turn as aging rocker Billy Mack in Love Actually. He’s one of my favorite parts of the movie. I think his use of the word, “Chubbs” is one of the few that’s endearing rather than problematic.

  7. June 10, 2010 11:03 am

    I love him as Billy Mack in Love Actually. I think my favorite resolution in the whole movie is his.

  8. June 10, 2010 1:31 pm

    As long as we’re linking our favorite Nighy sightings… he totally nailed Slartibartfast in the H2G2 movie:

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