Monday, June 05, 2006

Gigantic: A Tale of Two Johns (A.J. Schnack, 2002)

After this long, loving the quirky stylings of John Linnell and John Flansburgh (collectively known as They Might Be Giants) may seem like a mere phase, the briefly pseudo-intellectual, wry posturing that results from outgrowing adolescence. To others, TMBG's minimalist and fiercely independent aesthetic, lyrically and musically, continue to point toward a utopia of ideas never before heard. Very few find themselves in the middle.

Director A.J. Schnack's documentary of the band's members and influence may not exactly convert the uninitiated, but it has enough talking heads to provide a fun portrait of two unique musicians. Certains aspects of their live performances and infamous marketing techniques (the fascinatingly prolific Dial-a-Song) get explained by the men themselves and by some of their ardent celebrity and industry admirers. Some simply don't understand the infinite possibilities of the Two Johns' work, the experimentation and abstractly literate songwriting. The film attempts to demystify the band a little, but it's really just a fan-flick love letter.

The film appeared on the Sundance Channel earlier today. I became a Giants fan earlier than most; before I was a teenager I had worn out a cassette of 1990's Flood, and it even became the soothing soundtrack to any dental appointments during '92-'93. I've never seen them live, or investigated them as individuals. I've always only had the music, the Birdhouse in My Soul or the Hotel Detective, and that's more than enough. Thanks, John, and thanks, John.

"Gigantic (A Tale of Two Johns)" IMDb page

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