Do It Again / The Movie
I've already written about "Do It Again" the song and "Do It Again" the video -- now it's time to write about Do It Again the movie. Having now viewed this delicious documentary twice, I can say it's one of my favorite rock movies ever.
For shorthand's sake, I tend to refer to Do it Again as a Kinks documentary, which really doesn't do it justice. There have been plenty of those over the years, of varying quality, and of course there's always the Kinks' own 1980 live concert film One For the Road. But Do It Again is another thing altogether, a portrait of one semi-obsessed Kinks fan and his quixotic efforts to get the band to reunite, over a decade after their last concert. And since the fan in question is the Boston Globe music journalist Geoff Edgers, armed with his occupational tools of charm, chutzpah, and hound-dog persistence, he manages to take that project way farther than any of us ordinary Kinks fans would have done.
Edgers' story is told in deliberately meandering style. With the Kinks long disbanded and scattered, Edgers resorts to enlisting in his cause a number of other music stars -- Paul Weller, Sting, Zooey Deschanel, Warren Zanes of the Del Fuegos, and most especially the divine Robyn Hitchcock and his Venus 3 cohorts Peter Buck, Scott McCaughey, and Bill Rieflin. They all speak to him of the Kinks influence on their music, and agree that they'd love to see a Kinks reunion; some of them even agree to sing a Kinks song on camera with Geoff. (Best on-camera moment: Sting realizing that his song "When You Love Somebody" was ripped off from the Kinks' "Set Me Free".) Edgers also interviews such major players in the Kinks' history as producer Shel Talmy, Arista record kingpin Clive Davis, and former bassist Pete Quaife (who has since, sadly, died). And of course there are others who bluntly refuse to speak to him -- that too becomes part of the movie's fabric.
Edgers then films an intrepid trip to London, where he hangs out with Kinks fans at their annual convention, rings the doorbell at Konk Studios (to no avail), chats with Kinks drummer Mick Avory, and, in a riveting interview, speaks with Dave Davies himself. While Edgers never gets the elusive Ray Davies to speak to him, it becomes a bit like Waiting For Godot -- Ray's presence haunts the film, in flashes of archival footage and in bits of Kinks songs on the soundtrack. There's just enough Kinks music wafting through the film to remind you why they were such a great band, and why their reunion would indeed be a great moment in rock history.
My favorite thing about the Kinks' music is its sly, off-center humor, and what I love most about Do It Again is how much this movie uses that same kind of humor. As a documentary subject, Edgers is mercurial, compulsive, and charismatic (much like Ray Davies himself); director Robert Patton-Sprull tells his story with droll jump-cuts and juxtapositions, and random snippets of real-life interactions that draw in the audience, much as Ray Davies' songs draw in listeners with withering observations and poignant detail. It's an intelligent film, paying tribute to intelligent music -- without ever forgetting to be highly entertaining.
And one other thing about Kinkdom that Do It Again gets just right: It's not just about the band, but about their impact on their audience. There's all those other musicians who grew up on the Kinks' music, of course, and the devoted Kinksters who gather every year to celebrate the band. But Exhibit A in this movie is Edgers himself -- just as devoted as any other true Kinks fan, and taking his fandom to another level. Any band that can inspire dedication like that, has to be a band for the ages.