From a technical standpoint, Wright made a more whiz-bang documentary when it comes to this ilk. There are millions of documentaries about musical artists who never got the recognition they deserved, and while these films can be trusted for recommendations, they aren’t always the brightest ports for movie making. . But Wright retorts with clear energy and enthusiasm from the jump, showing this band’s timeline from one catchy song to the next, intelligently presented, lots of quick cuts, and unpredictable style – you never know if the next pass is going to have play dough or sticks for a reenactment, or which celebrity is going to appear with a meaningful reflection on what the group is symbolizing. Given the group’s sense of humor, which the film includes you in by showing Russell and Ron being interviewed with such lack of seriousness, the wacky and lively approach is appropriate.
Wright credits himself as a “Fanboy” when he speaks on camera, but everyone interviewed here, including Beck, Mike Myers, “Weird Al” Yankovic, Amy Sherman-Palladino, Todd Rundgren and more, has an infectious enthusiasm. Many of them admire the group for their integrity and ingenuity.
It should be noted that Wright is keeping the personal lives of brothers Russell and Ron – who are not British, although everyone thinks so – relatively under wraps. Rather, it is a historical context focused on the battle for their creativity with records that have proven how they can evolve while remaining true to themselves; they clashed with record executives, had a hot and cold presence on the pop charts, and were considered perpetual underdogs as a result. It becomes a heartwarming way to retrace the falls and highs of this group, anticipating developments that show them breaking through. Even halfway through, you feel like you “understand” the band and want them to be successful as someone tells their long story.
“The Sparks Brothers” is so entertaining that you almost – almost – forget the ambitious length of the film, because it’s not like you tire of learning Sparks’ next song or creative move (the film struggles to conclude, however). It becomes one of Wright’s best touches with this documentary, as it convinces you that you don’t just want to hear a handful of songs, but want to go back and trace the band album by album.
One of the very last films to premiere at Sundance this year was “Amy Tan: Unintentional MemoryA title from the late James Redford’s American documentary. The documentary is a touching celebration of Tan’s prolific career as a writer, as well as a celebration of the personal relationship we have with what we create. This broader notion makes “Unintended Memoir” a particularly bittersweet but touching final project by the late Redford, who died last October.