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 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Thursday, April 24, 2014 - Edition No 894 

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STILL CRAZY

SYNOPSIS:
In 1977, Strange Fruit broke up following a disastrous night at the Wisbech rock festival. Twenty years later, the prospect of a lucrative reunion tour has fired the imagination of Tony (Stephen Rea). Hooking up with former secretary Karen (Juliet Aubrey) they gather the disparate members, now all in dreary day jobs - sullen guitarist Les (Jimmy Nail), offensive drummer Beano (Timothy Spall), down-on-his-luck lead singer Ray (Bill Nighy) and gregarious roadie Hughie (Billy Connolly). But the band is haunted by the absence of former lead guitarist Brian Lovell. It seems Lovell has died - probably of a drug overdose. Although they hire young Luke (Hans Matheson) as their new lead guitar, they find it hard to replace Lovell; or to forget the past.

"Old bands never die, they just --- well, get older. That's the moral of this charming and deftly made British comedy about what it's like to be a rock 'n' roller, even when life is starting to pass you by. It's a film about loyalty and friendship, as well as about the need to rediscover one's youth, and amidst the raucous humour, lay a film that has plenty to talk - and sing about. But at its core, Still Crazy is a comedy, and a very funny one at that, full of wonderfully etched characters and simple, comic vignettes. Featuring a fresh and inventive script by Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais, director Brian Gibson (What's Love Got to Do with It) keeps his film moving briskly, and creates a sharp, visual style, that enhances the film's idiosyncratic characters. His shooting of the film's various concert sequences is superb, and the film looks wonderful. Performances here are faultless to a tee, but the scene stealer is Bill Nighy, who is truly memorable as the group's lead singer. Still Crazy has some resonances of films such as Spinal Team and The Commitments (the latter was written by the same duo), but retains its own sense of individuality and freshness. This is a wonderfully engaging and uplifting comedy, featuring a superb soundtrack and indelible characters. In all, an irresistible entertainment."
Paul Fischer

"Despite its '70's retro subject matter, Still Crazy is a fresh and energetic film that's much deeper than first meets the eye. The central idea is hardly original - aging rockers unite for a reunion tour - but the film is so intelligently written, it transcends any mustiness in the plot. Don't think this is a Spinal Tap-style parody - Still Crazy is about lost chances, second chances, coping, friendship, love and redemption. It's also filled with great humour and some fine musical moments (even if, like me, you are not a fan of '70's music). Although Stephen Rea has top billing, the story is told from the point of view of Karen, played wonderfully by Juliet Aubrey. She's a strong independent woman who, for all their flaws, believes passionately in these middle-aged men trying to recapture what they once had. She's the glue that holds them together. Rea is somewhat subdued as Tony, whose unrequieted love for Karen gnaws at him. Jimmy Nail and Bill Nighy (who incidentally does many of the vocals in the film's musical numbers) both give brillantly nuanced performances as the main rivals in the band. Not so nuanced, but uproariously funny, is Timothy Spall as the disgusting Beano. Some awkward moments towards the end nothwithstanding, the movie works on many levels. Still Crazy is a film with easy charm, sly wit and deeper messages - an unexpected little delight."
David Edwards



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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

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TRAILER

STILL CRAZY (M)
(US)

CAST: Stephen Rea, Billy Connolly, Jimmy Nail, Timothy Spall, Bill Nighy, Juliet Aubrey, Helena Bergström, Bruce Robinson

DIRECTOR: Brian Gibson

PRODUCER: Amanda Marmot

SCRIPT: Dick Clement, Ian La Frenais

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Ashley Rowe

EDITOR: Peter Boyle

MUSIC: Clive Langer

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Max Gottlieb

RUNNING TIME: 95 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Columbia TriStar

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: April 8, 1999







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