Scott Walker: 30 Century Man Movie Review
Cast & Crew
Director : Stephen Kijak
Producer : Mia Bays, Stephen Kijak, Elizabeth Rose,
Forever hidden from the world behind a pair of starless-night-black sunglasses and a pulled-down baseball cap, it turns out that Scott Walker looks quite ordinary once you get him to come out from behind the curtain. As a shot of musical nostalgia, 30 Century Man is double barreled: Part chronicled life, part big-name appreciative ceremony. The likes of Brian Eno, David Bowie, Radiohead, and Johnny Marr of The Smiths come out to voice their devotion to Walker, many of them talking about and reacting to their favorite Walker tracks. Sting reacting to "It's Raining Today" is a trip, but Bowie, who serves as executive producer here, talking about how he dated one of Walker's exes, is blissful. Transposed from America to England and then back again, Walker is the death's head moth to Brian Wilson's fluttering, buoyant monarch -- likening himself to Orson Welles or, just maybe, Jacques Brel. Fittingly obsessed with Beckett and Francis Bacon, he spent most of the '70s in obscurity, releasing uninspired cover records that cheapened his immense talent.
That Kijak posits his subject as unequaled genius is perhaps inescapable but still questionable -- even if this reviewer is quick to agree. Kijak diffuses many quandaries by not just talking to fans but to the people Walker works with and immersing the viewer in the production of Walker's latest full length work -- a miasma of burnt-black-art-rock-operatic-avant-garde-pop called The Drift, released in 2006. One may wonder how a flank of pig's ribs, a donkey, a large wooden box, and a trashcan would possibly fit into any musician's repertoire but watching Walker direct his battalion of experimental musicians is awe-inspiring. As interesting as his earlier career is, Kijak gives special (and due) attention to Walker's last three proper releases -- most interesting is the critical and mixed fan reaction to his metallic 1995 opus Tilt, which one critic described as the first 21st century record.
Despite the cheesy graphic swirls that accompany them, Kijak is smart enough to put emphasis on the music. Some of the film's early moments are soundtracked to the lingering, disquieted flutters of The Drift's opener "Cossacks Are," and I was immediately transported to that snow-driven week in early 2007 when I listened to nothing but that album. For Walker fans, I imagine 30 Century Man will come as a bit of a vindication, having the knowledge that they knew this world before it had been fully documented and made ready for public consumption. For novices, suffice it to say you have my unadulterated jealousy.
Aka Scott Walker: 30th Century Man.
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