Sunday, May 9, 2021
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What to watch: Try something old with ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ or something new with Anna Kendrick in Netflix’s ‘Stowaway’



Let’s get two words often used about Frank Zappa out of the way: Eccentric. Genius. Both true, both overused. Growing up listening to “Freak Out!” and “We’re Only in It for the Money” (with his The Mothers of Invention), it wasn’t until 1969′s “Hot Rats” that his intricate, swirling and always surprising music really clicked in for me. Alex Winter’s touching 2020 documentary is filled with all kinds of access to Zappa’s massive music vault, band members and footage explaining the composer and musician whose social commentary often manifested itself behind the goofiness and discomfort of a 13-year-old boy. The film opens, and later returns, to Zappa’s 1991 concert in Prague, where he was revered as one of the cultural heroes for the future Czech Republic’s revolution. Zappa never shied away from politics, and his Congressional testimony against labeling lyrics is given substantial screen time. Zappa was always in a hurry, too many ideas and too little time, especially after he was diagnosed in 1990 with the prostate cancer that would kill him three years later. Winter’s interviews with Zappa’s musicians are most revealing, especially with percussionist Ruth Underwood, who talks about how Zappa’s concerts opened up all musical possibilities for her. Had he lived past 52, Zappa’s musical and cultural possibilities certainly would have continued. Just imagine Zappa on Donald J. Trump. (Hulu, VOD) — Scott L. Powers



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