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Arts and Entertainment Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2016 5 years ago

Film review: 'Eat That Question: Frank Zappa in His Own Words'

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This documentary commemorates the free-wheeling, misunderstood genius of Frank Zappa in his own words.

"Eat That Question: Frank Zappa in His Own Words" is a film that depicts Zappa as an enigma but, more importantly, an intellectual. German documentarian Thorsten Schutte spent eight years compiling videos that capture the essence of the man whose wisdom lurked behind the music.

Frank Zappa never suffered fools. He was bluntly audacious, witty, sarcastic and fiercely articulate. We glean this through archival footage of TV interviews, concert clips and news coverage. Being successful never went to his head. More than once in this engrossing bio, he describes himself as "a regular guy with four kids and a mortgage and all that crap."

Other surprising revelations include that he didn't do drugs and would not tolerate his band members (The Mothers of Invention) using them while working. His moving testimony against censorship spurred sparring with Florida (of course) Senator Paula Hawkins. Zappa walked away with a TKO. He even refused to perform a concert at the behest of Pope Paul VI. His convictions could never be compromised.

Director Schutte chose not to utilize any third party input in this brilliant documentary. It was a wise move in that we get a concise, clear picture of the charismatic musician straight from the horse's mouth. For a man who describes himself as "totally unrepentant," we wouldn't want it any other way.

Zappa knew where he stood in the universe. He realized that most people don't even know what he does, but do know who he is. He understood the importance of culture and disdained financial decision-making in favor pf those artistic in nature. When he is accused of being vulgar, Zappa's retort was, "dirty words don't exist." Had he only lived to hear what rappers spew these days.

A philosopher, anti-communist, comedian and innovator on so many levels, Frank Zappa was a free-wheeling lover of life. Sadly, he died at age 52 in 1993 of cancer. A heads up — remain in the movie theater after the credits roll. Mr. Zappa gives the most important piece of advice you will ever hear. Heed it; honor it.

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