The Sparks Brothers

2021

Comedy / Documentary / Music

137
Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 96%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 98%
IMDb Rating 7.9 10 3

Synopsis


Downloaded times
December 19, 2021

Director

Cast

Adam Buxton as Self
Ron Mael as Self
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU 720p.WEB 1080p.WEB
1.27 GB
1280*720
English 2.0
R
23.976 fps
140 min
P/S N/A / N/A
2.6 GB
1920×1080
English 2.0
R
23.976 fps
140 min
P/S N/A / N/A
1.27 GB
1280*720
English 2.0
R
23.976 fps
140 min
P/S N/A / N/A
2.6 GB
1920×1080
English 2.0
R
23.976 fps
140 min
P/S N/A / N/A

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by ferguson-6 8 / 10 / 10

Exotic Creatures

Greetings again from the darkness. Over the past 5 decades, the number of bands that have broken up is, well, almost all of them. For two brothers to write songs and perform together over that span, and still be at it in their 70's is remarkable. Sparks is made up of Ron Mael and younger brother Russell. They've published 25 albums with 300 songs, and performed thousands of concerts. Somehow they still like each other, respect each other, and work well together. As unusual as their music is and as strange as their stage show can be, it seems only fitting that their cinematic profile would be directed by Edgar Wright, who is best known for SHAUN OF THE DEAD (2002) and BABY DRIVER (2017). This is his first documentary. Mr. Wright establishes the necessary unconventional start by having Sparks perform the opening credits. Not a song to open the film, but rather they actually perform the opening credits. We are then introduced to Ron and Russell, and we get some childhood family photos and an explanation about how their artist father taking them to the movies would later influence their work. And other than learning that Ron has a massive snow globe collection, that's the end of the insight into their personal lives. Normally that would be a mistake, but there is nothing normal about Sparks. Instead of personal profiles, director Wright opts for a chronological discography - a walk through the band's timeline of recordings. Each step is punctuated with insight from fellow musicians or celebrities, and clips of the band performing their music from each era. The interviews are filmed in black & white so that the color of the stage performances really pop on screen. Some of those interviewed include producer Todd Rundgren, Jane Wiedlin (The Go-Go's), Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers), Pamela Des Barres (a musician and, umm, certain other skills), and other musicians who played with Sparks over the years. Often thought of as a novelty act, Sparks music and shows are filled with humor, but are not a joke. The two brothers have stayed committed to the music and the performances. To cover an extended gap in their career, director Wright utilizes 6 years of "Dick Clark's Rockin' New Year's Eve", but more impactful is finding out that they worked on the music every day during those 6 years. The Mael brothers define persistence. The brothers' desire to break into film music fizzled a couple of times due to Jacques Tati and Tim Burton, but they do appear in the 1977 thriller ROLLERCOASTER. Songwriter Ron is the brother with the Hitler/Chaplin mustache, while singer Russell was the matinee idol in the early years. They are referred to as the "Best British group to come out of America", and their musical influence can be traced to many more popular bands. A collaboration with Franz Ferdinand pushed their creativity, but it's an outlandish 21 shows in a row, each featuring a different album performed live that may best define their love of music and performance (and stamina). So while Mr. Wright offers zip in regards to their personal lives, the abundance of live performance clips and the quite funny Sparks "Facts" over the closing credits make this a documentary worth watching (even with its 140 minute run time). In theaters June 18, 2021.

Reviewed by paul-allaer 7 / 10 / 10

Super enjoyable documentary about the legendary Sparks

"The Sparks Brothers" (2021 release; 143 min.) is a documentary about the band Sparks, with real life brothers Ron (keyboards) and Russell (vocals) Mael. After some quick comments from people like Beck, Flea, Alex Kapramos (Franz Ferdinand) and others, we go back in time to the Maels' upbringing in southern California. The passing of their dad at a young age (Ron was 11, Russell 8) left a large scar on their youth. After taking piano lessons, Ron quickly entered into regional piano competitions, and one thing led to another and the brothers were in a band in their UCLA college years. Todd Rundgren produced their debut album, initially released under the Halfnelson moniker... At this point we are 10 min. Into the documentary. Couple of comments: this documentary.is the latest from UK writer-director Edgar Wright, whose prior film was the excellent "Baby Driver". Here he takes a closer look at the now legendary band Sparks, celebrating 50 years in the music business, and still going strong. I should mention that I grew up in Belgium, and Sparks have always been much bigger in Europe than they have ever been in the US. Their 1974 hit "This Town Ain't Big Enough For The Both Of Us" was massive and just the first in a string of hits (in contrast, Spark never charted a single on the Billboard Hot 100 until the 1980s and even that was just minor). I couldn't wait to see how the early 80s collaboration between Sparks and the Belgian electronics band Telex (resulting in the 1981 Telex album "Sex", for which Ron and Russell wrote all the lyrics) would be covered. Thankfully the documentary runs chronological, and so after dealing with the 1980 hit "When I'm With You", I was all ready for this, except that inexplicably, the documentary makes no mention of this whatsoever. I mean, the documentary runs 2 hrs. 23 min. Yet couldn't spare a minute or two on this? (Please note: this was an important collaboration for the Mael brothers, as Telex was quite well known in Europe. "The Sparks Brothers" ends with a nice "In Memory Of" listing, and Marc Moulin, one of the Telex band members who sadly passed away in 2008, is mentioned. So yea, this is not just another footnote in the history of Sparks.) Setting aside this inexplicable oversight, the documentary does a good job, with plenty of archive footage, and the full cooperation of Ron and Russell, who are now a crisp young 75 and 72, respectively, if you can believe it. I have not seen any indication that a soundtrack for this documentary will be released. Barring that, I'd readily suggest you check out the 2 CD compilation from the early 90s "Profile: The Ultimate Sparks Collection", and for good measure also get the excellent 2015 collaboration album between Franz Ferdinand and Sparks simply called "F. F. S." "The Sparks Brothers" was supposed to be released last year, but COVID-19 had other plans. The documentary premiered at this year's Sundance film festival to immediate critical acclaim, and the movie finally opened in select US theaters this weekend. The Sunday early evening screening where I saw this at my local arthouse theater here in Cincinnati was not attended well (exactly 5 people, including myself), and given the long running time of this film, I don't see this playing in theaters much longer. If you are a fan of Sparks (and you know who you are!), I'd readily suggest you check this out, be it in the theater (if you still can), on VOD, or eventually on DVD/Blu-ray, and draw your own conclusion.

Reviewed by stevendbeard 7 / 10 / 10

Group You Probably Have Never Heard Of

I saw "The Sparks Brothers", starring Ron Mael & Russell Mael. This is a documentary about an influential pop band that most people have never heard of. Lots of musicians know their work-including The Who & The Beatles-as shown in the movie. It's directed by Edgar Wright-Baby Driver, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Shaun of the Dead-and it is filled with lots of celebrity interviews, as well as the 2 brothers discussing their career. Todd Rundgrin was the first to help get them signed to a label in the 1970's. Other interview contributors include Jane Wiedlin, Beck, Mike Myers, Fred Armisen, Flea and Weird Al Yankovic-all fans, of course. Ron & Russell are real life brothers that make up the band. From the 1970's to the present, they have accumulated 25 albums. They were born in California-some people thought they were British-and they grew up loving sports and movies. Russell is the charismatic singer and Ron is the keyboards player and writer of their material. Ron also sports a mustache that reminds people of either Charlie Chaplin or Adolph Hitler-depending on the song. Their songs are often imaginative and filled with humor-sort of like a combination of Weird Al & Frank Zappa-but the movie delves into why they never made it big. It's not for everyone but they do have their rabid fans. After seeing the movie, I vaguely remember seeing them on MTV-back when MTV used to play music videos. It's rated "R" for language and has a running time of 2 hours & 15 minutes. I enjoyed it-and yes, I have their greatest hits-and I would buy it on DVD.

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