Everyone Stares: The Police Inside OutReviewed By Collin Souter
Posted 02/02/06 14:43:23
(SCREENED AT THE 2006 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL) Not all documentaries have to tell the whole story. Not all documentaries have to be balanced. Not all documentaries have to be warts and all. Itís a rather flexible medium and has limitless possibilities, but rock documentaries can be the trickiest. How does one make a compelling, engaging documentary about an artist or a band for the audience member who walks in with little to no interest in the first place? With Stewart Copelandís self-reflective documentary Everyone Stares: The Police Inside Out, it would be safe to say that no documentary about a band should be made by the drummer.Copelandís documentary consists solely of footage he shot on a Super 8 camera when the infamous band The Police started out. It charts their humble beginnings in the late Ď70s and finishes just before the release of their final album, Synchronicity, only a few years later. There are no current interviews with any of the band members, their fans, critics, their managers or their wives. For 74 minutes, youíre stuck with Copelandís home movies while he dryly, awkwardly narrates over them, sometimes utilizing embarrassing poetry.
I consider myself a casual Police fan. I like them and I understand why they became one of the worldís biggest bands at the time. Their simple, sometimes sparse structures coupled with obvious reggae influences was fresh and original, especially in the grim climate of Ď70s FM rock. The lyrics about temptation and the darker side of relationships were interesting and fun to listen to without being shallow and, as the one thing the documentary clearly conveys, they knew how to rock the house. So, please spare me the ďyouíre not a fan, so you wouldnít like it anywayĒ argument. Iím not a fan of The Band either, but that doesnít make Scorseseís The Last Waltz less of a great movie and as a die-hard U2 fan, I find Rattle & Hum horrendously flawed (but thank heavens Larry Mullen Jr. didnít narrate it!).
So I donít consider myself pre-disposed to liking or disliking this movie based on its subject. I really wanted to like it. The problem is Copelandís technique. The movie seems to be strung together haphazardly, almost as though no thought went into whether or not anything should be cut out. The editing room floor must have been spotless. The footage is not all that compelling and in many ways itís redundant. Why have two live versions of the same song back to back? How many times do you have to remind me of how popular you were? Unfortunately, with the footage that exists, Copelandís strategy was doomed from the start. The footage shows us nothing while Copeland tells us everything. Itís like watching an audiobook.Again, itís for serious die-hards only and not at all worth a slot at Sundance. I think, though, that if I were a die-hard fan I would be angry. Imagine paying top dollar to see this film, knowing full well that the bandís lead singer, Sting, would eventually break them up for a less-than-thrilling solo career, not to mention collaborations with P. Diddy. Everyone Stares ends with a true slap in the face: Footage of The Police counting all their cash. Now, along comes Copeland to take more of your money in exchange for an insipid trip down memory lane. Documentaries, especially one about a great band, should never be this way.
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