Stoned (2005)

R   |    |  Biography, Drama, Music


Stoned (2005) Poster

A chronicle of the sordid life and suspicious death of Rolling Stones co-founder Brian Jones, who was found in the bottom of his swimming pool weeks after being let go from the band.

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24 October 2005 | cliffhanley_
Sixties culture clash
It has taken Stephen Woolley ten years to get this on to the screen, which allowed him plenty of time to do his research. He began by acquiring the film rights to the book, 'Who Killed Cock Robin?' and added the rights to the deathbed revelations of Frank Thorogood; then the rights to the book by Anna Wohlin, one of Jones' two current girlfriends. He topped this by hiring a private eye to find Janet, the other girlfriend, to get her confirmation about the size of the Stoned lifestyle and some of the details of Jones' death. He was also able to find a few original cameras including a vintage Bolex, to match the ancient film clips slotted into parts of the story. Getting any film made has to be an obsession, and a major one at that, if it takes ten years. What kept Woolley going was having been too young to be a hippy, the realisation that he had bought (as we all did) the PR stunt depicting the leather-clad speed-freak drunk-rolling Beatles as nice fluffy chaps and the middle-class cricket fans from Kingston-upon-Thames as the evil and dangerous Stones, ' Jagger was at the London School of Economics', and seeing Brian Jones as the only band member who was a genuine bad boy; 'the missing link' to the decadent bohemian world. He links this to the dichotomy between Brian, the studiedly effete and spoiled brat, and Frank (Considine), a real bloke, an ex-soldier, with whom Woolley found himself identifying. He says he screened 'Performance' for the cast before shooting began, to get them into the zeitgeist, (We of the hippy generation realised that we could measure the effect of the encroaching years and our possible maturity by noting how we moved from identifying with Turner to 'being' Chas), and in fact the shooting of the gun scene from that gets a quote here. There are many little bits of contemporary reference intercut, and all so nearly subliminal that the audience could miss them if it were not well-acquainted with them from the first time round and/or didn't posses a certain amount of quick-fire intelligence. It's pleasurably flattering to be a member of an audience which is assumed to have these qualities. When you can say it in twenty frames, why milk it? The opening scenes establish Brian (Gregory) as the kingpin, getting a gig by phone while the rest of the band waits outside the red box. Although not much later Andrew Loog Oldham sells himself to them as manager, most of the subsequent story dispenses with a strictly chronological narrative. The general situation moves on, but in bunches of flash-back, present and flash-forward. Time's tooty-fruity. What happened after the Stones got Big was a gift to a film maker: Frank is taken on as a builder to tart up Brian's little mansion and, in spite of the huge gaps between their respective cultures, becomes part of the Stone's world. The parallels between this reality and the fictional scenario of the contemporaneous Cammell-Roeg film, are fascinating and should form the basis of a PHD for some 'sixties-fixated student sooner or later. For the camera-work, colour, montage, in purely visual terms 'Stoned' is worth seeing, although it would have been well worth Gregory putting on several extra pounds to cover his taut, well-toned musculature - Brian was quite chubby in real life - in fact all the band members could have added a little more puppy-fat. One obvious failing in 'Stoned' is its lack of bloody marvellous soundtrack; but there's hardly a film out now without a bloody marvellous soundtrack, and there are plenty of precedents; Orson Welles' 'Touch of Evil', for instance. For lasting power a film has to stand as a film rather than an extended marketing device. As a film, this cuts it. CLIFF HANLEY

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