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Eat That Question: Frank Zappa in His Own Words 

Wednesday, Jun 29 2016

Unlike the subjects of other found-audio documentaries such as Marlon Brando and Janis Joplin, musician Frank Zappa has always been an acquired taste, and Thorsten Schütte's otherwise terrific documentary Eat That Question: Frank Zappa in His Own Words may not be the best place for a neophyte to start. The movie is compiled from three decades' worth of interviews and concert appearances, some culled from Zappa's long-out-of-print video releases Does Humor Belong in Music? and Video from Hell. Footage ranges from an early television humiliation by a dickish Steve Allen (a rite of passage that Zappa shared with Elvis) to a final interview during his battle with cancer in the early 1990s, here and there touching on his always-sharp feelings about music, the recording industry, drugs, religion, and censorship. (He only liked one of those things.) Eat That Question doesn't provide a great deal of historical context for Zappa's career; for example, it's never pointed out that the gentlemen singing "Penis Dimension" from 200 Motels are Flo and Eddie of "Happy Together" fame. It's notable that Eat That Question is a French-German co-production, since this uniquely and proudly American figure was always appreciated more overseas during his life — and so it remains long after Frank Zappa's untimely death, at 52, in 1993, when we need him more than ever.


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Sherilyn Connelly


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