While it’s been more than 20 years since the great Frank Zappa left the planet, surprisingly little in the way of films and other media have focused on about his life and times. With Eat That Question: Frank Zappa in His Own Words, director Thorsten Schütte finds a nice way of getting Zappa back in the public eye, making a solid documentary featuring Zappa interviews, concert footage and appearances. Like The Beatles Anthology before it, Eat That Question tells the artist’s story by using his own words.
I’m a big fan, so I’ve seen some of the footage Schutte utilizes, like Zappa playing music with bicycles with Steve Allen, and Frank’s final interview before dying from cancer. Thankfully, Schutte (with help from the Zappa Family Trust) has also unearthed a lot of rare footage—footage with which even the most ardent fan might not be familiar. This isn’t a concert film, but it does have some great concert moments, enough so that fans of his music will be satisfied.
The fact that Zappa was a brilliant philosopher and extremely wise man was sometimes lost due to the controversy he could cause with his lyrics, especially in the late 1970s. Schutte’s film gives us plenty of Zappa talking—and Frank simply one of the most engaging speakers who ever walked the planet. It’s also quite the kick to see this gathering of interviews and interviewees, some of whom Frank didn’t exactly hit it off with. If he didn’t like the interviewer, he still made the session interesting.
I found myself missing the man very much when the movie was over.
Eat That Question: Frank Zappa in His Own Words is now playing at the Palm Desert 10 Cinemas (72840 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-340-0033).