One of my favorite films of the last ten years is Still Crazy directed by Brian Gibson and starring Stephen Rea and Bill Nighy among other people. The film tells the story of a 70's rock band since put out to pasture and reuniting for one last chance at stardom. The tone of the film is one of approaching or current middle age and how these once drug taking, women shagging, rock and rollers handle this new found stardom and/or exposure.
It goes through the trials and tribulations of their reunion and rekindles all of the old animosities from their original encarnation, as well as reintroducing their artistic guide back into the mix by the end. There is not much spectacular about the cinematography or set design, because the film is really about the performances. Stephen Rea aquits himself nicely as the once keyboardist and now ringleader of getting the band back together. Jimmy Nail is the bassist who still worships the band's orginal song writer and leader. Timothy Spall is the drummer who is forever running from a devoted fan, who he thinks wants his money and Billy Connelly and Juliet Aubrey are the roady and manager for the original band, one that only wishes to see how badly they will bollocks it up once again and the other a true devotee to the bands eternal sound and character.
But above all else is the perfomance of Bill Nighy. He is the one time front man and now middle aged AA attending, spiritual sounding has been. His performance brings this entire movie into focus. It is through him that you really see the sad state that these men have found themselves in, and his performance is dead on. From his soft spoken demeanor to his bombastic attempts to recreate his once outragious perfomances, he tackles this character with gusto and really puts the entire story into perspective.
I have always been a huge fan of British cinema and the British spoken word. These actors inhabit their characters as if they really were a band from the 70's. Much like Spinal Tap, they sing their own songs and make an attempt to create a fictional band that any one of us may remember and enjoy until this day. They are spot on in their portrayels and it is not out of the question to think that this band really did once exist. Further, the music that comes out of this film is outstanding, especially the song The Flame Still Burns.
Their fictional journey to refind themselves, as well as bring back a long lost member is a touching story, and one cannot be disappointed with the music they create in between. There is nothing overtly spectacular about this film, but it is a sure pleasure to watch. There are times of sadness, joy, excitement and humor. Each member has his own journey to pass through, and the end result is as satisfying as it could possibly be.
It's a small film from 1998 that probably got little attention at the time, but I recall loving it the first time I saw it, and rewatching it now it only made me appreciate what a wonderful little film it really is. I loved Nighy in Love Actually, and if you did too you will love seeing what perhaps that character was up to in the 70's and perhaps today. Stephen Rea is one of the most underrated actors of today, and he is the glue (along with Juliet Aubrey) that keeps the hope alive for this band. There are many wonderful, tearful, humorous and tense moments to savor. There is simply no reason not to watch and enjoy this film. If you like 70's rock and roll, British film or a great story, you will not be disappointed in what you get with this movie.
Most likely forgotten today, Still Crazy is the full narrative to Spinal Taps faux documentary. It is a wonderful suggestion of what might have happened to all of those bands you know and love. Where are they today? Easily, they could be doing the exact thing this band does, and you will certainly be thrilled by their reunion, music and interaction. If you have never seen it, go out and rent it today. It is simply marvelous. That is all.