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Brothers Of The Head (Mark's take)

01/09/2006. Contributed by Mark R. Leeper

Buy Brothers Of The Head in the USA - or Buy Brothers Of The Head in the UK

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A 1977 novella by Brian Aldiss is the basis for this punk rock pseudo-documentary about conjoined twins who become punk rock stars in the mid-1970s, says Mark. The pace is slow, the story is slight, and the music is loud. I must not have been the filmmakers' intended audience.

Rating: low 0 (-4 to +4) or 4/10

There have been at least two pseudo-documentaries about rock music that I have liked a great deal. There is THIS IS SPINAL TAP. (Well, pretty much everybody likes SPINAL TAP for the humour, if nothing else.) There was also Peter Watkins's nearly forgotten PRIVILEGE, about a fabulously popular rock musician and a plot by the British government to exploit him to manipulate the public. BROTHERS OF THE HEAD is a third rock documentary. The first two shared a very important characteristic that the third did not. Their music had melody and was not unpleasant.

This is a characteristic that BROTHERS OF THE HEAD unfortunately lacks. I found the music of BROTHERS OF THE HEAD simply irritating. Everything about the film is meant to be disturbing and unpleasant. Rumour has it that even science fiction writer Brian Aldiss did not like the film, and it was based on a story he wrote in 1977. Directors Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe (who made LOST IN LA MANCHA) tell the story of the flash-in-the-pan freak punk band The Bang Bang with two conjoined twins, and something extra.

The story concerns the Howe Brothers, Tom and Barry (played by Harry Treadaway and Luke Treadaway), who became a punk rock sensation in the 1970s. In spite of the fact they seem to be nearly lacking in talent, their anger and their freak value can be used by promoter Zak (Howard Attfield) who defends his crassness with "I never exploited anyone who didn't want to be exploited." They go from a squalid world of abuse and poverty to be a major phenomenon in the fledgling punk rock scene.

The story delves into their ugly past and their ugly present. The plot takes some grotesque turns and follows their love lives and how success affects the conjoined twins who are into the expected sex, drugs, and rock n' roll. A woman comes into their lives and forms with them a triangular relationship with a very narrow base. Tania Emery plays Laura, who is a writer reporting on the two boys who becomes interested and for her own reasons wants to separate the boys. Ken Russell plays himself making his own film about the Howe twins.

The style is realistic, almost reality-TV-like, but the people and the music are unpleasant and so is the whole experience of the film. This is a film for a very select audience. I was not selected. I rate BROTHERS OF THE HEAD a low 0 on the -4 to +4 scale or 4/10.

Mark R. Leeper

Copyright 2006 Mark R. Leeper

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