One of the more intriguing megastars to emerge from the post-punk era, electro pop pioneer Gary Numan sold millions of albums in the early 1980s, was revered and reviled in seemingly equal measure, and has gone through some pretty dark times both personally and career-wise on account of his Asperger’s syndrome and battles with depression.
Gary Numan: Android in La La Land | Rating: ***
Yoga Hosers |Rating: *
What comes through most clearly in Steve Read and Rob Alexander’s rather sweet and endearing documentary, Gary Numan: Android in La La Land, though, is what an open and unassuming guy the man behind synthpop anthems Cars and Are Friends Electric? really is.
A lot of that is evident from the dynamic he has with his wife, Gemma. She’s a former super-fan whose teenage ambition was to marry Numan, but who has, over the years (they married in 1997), provided him with some much-needed stability. On screen they’re pretty funny together, frequently bickering on camera, but in a caring way that reveals his deep insecurities about life, performing and his own talent in general.
The film, which had its Edinburgh International Film Festival premiere last night and screens again tomorrow, is structured as a comeback story.
As Numan gets closer to debuting the new album (2013’s Splinter), the film offers a rather poignant real-time look at how he deals with the anxiety surrounding its release, something that also shines a light on how therapeutic its creation has been. Throughout, Numan seems wholly uninterested in mythologising himself or his past. For all his troubles, he seems like one of the music industry’s nice guys – a shy, nerdy, somewhat fragile figure, trying to support his young family by doing the thing that’s always made him feel safe in the world.
Kevin Smith’s cinematic comfort zone has always been the pop-culture-obsessed world of teen and 20-something slackers. But after stretching himself with the excellent action-horror hybrid Red State in 2011, it’s disappointing to see him trading once again on the kind of scatological humour that fuelled the likes of Mallrats and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. Yoga Hosers, which premieres at Edinburgh this week (Smith is also appearing at an “in person” event), is certainly one of his poorest efforts.
Starring Harley Quinn Smith (the director’s daughter) and Lily-Rose Melody Depp (daughter of Johnny Depp), the film revolves around a pair of yoga- and social-media-obsessed Canadian teens who become embroiled in a plot to stop a cryogenically preserved Nazi (Ralph Garman) from unleashing a clone army of rectal-fixated bratwurst sausage Nazis. It might, on that basis, seem pointless complaining about the lack of quality control, but the Clerks director’s early films were at least amusing.
These days, he’s funnier talking about filmmaking than practicing it and this slapdash effort feels more like an excuse to accrue a fresh supply of behind-the-scenes anecdotes for his epic Q&A events.