Revenge of the Mekons
Mockumentary films such as District 9 and This Is Spinal Tap have already proven that the depth of the subject matter doesn’t necessarily correlate with the quality of the film. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that Revenge of the Mekons is so extremely watchable, even though it deals with a somewhat uncharted corner of the musical world. The film follows the formation and development of fringe punk-rock folk band The Mekons, from the 70s up to the present day, detailing the band’s successes and failures as well as their ever-changing style. It’s a great help that many of the band members are fairly charismatic, and there’s a good variety of source material on display: not just talking heads, but news clips, photos, music videos and more. These bring vibrancy to the screen, which keeps the audience’s attention firmly on the band’s story. It’s clear that director Joe Angio is no amateur when it comes to documentaries.
The sheer scope of the movie is similarly impressive, not just concerning itself with over 30 years of history, but also encompassing geographical detours to the United States, Kyrgyzstan and the heart of Britain. This variety ensures that the film never feels stuffy or claustrophobic, and even if the detours aren’t all directly relevant, they are still very intriguing. But even with so much material to cover, Revenge of the Mekons is hardly in a hurry. The film really takes its time so that viewers can appreciate the band’s music, and the processes by which the music is created. Though heavily edited and stylishly augmented with simplistic text and graphics, the film is not afraid to linger on the Mekons and their work. Unlike a lot of documentaries, Revenge of the Mekons really demonstrates an understanding and appreciation of its source material.
If there’s one critical flaw in Revenge of the Mekons, it’s that it is just too long – and not because it’s boring; quite the opposite. From start to finish, the film really is captivating both visually and narratively, and so by the time the first hour is over, the viewer is likely to feel exhausted by the relentless twists and turns of the Mekons’ story. That said, too intense is preferable to too dull, and it’s a minor issue when compared with the impressive degree of craft that’s gone into creating this fascinating documentary.
Revenge of the Mekons is released in selected cinemas on 19th November 2015.
Watch the trailer for Revenge of the Mekons here: