Meeting People Is Easy [1999]

It seems appropriate that a documentary following Radiohead during the aftermath of 1997's OK Computer--an album as conceptual as modern rock can get--should also be high-concept. With that in mind, director Grant Gee has created something truly special with Meeting People Is Easy, a movie revealing that, critically acclaimed or not, the life and times of a rock supergroup can be pretty boring. Rather than focus on Radiohead's songs and concert footage, Gee takes us behind the scenes with his handheld super-8 camera to show us grainy images of the multiple interviews, backstage boredom, and all-around monotony that followed the British group in the wake of their critically acclaimed third album. With a postmodern edge that perfectly suits the band--text from interviews scrolls across the screen, half the camera angles have the appearance of being hidden--and carte blanche to follow the group everywhere they go, Gee's movie makes for fascinating (and anything but boring) viewing. You see, Radiohead's rock & roll lifestyle is one for the 21st century: no TVs thrown out of windows, no M&M candies separated by colors, just plenty of scheduled press interviews, constant touring, and the occasional rehearsal. During the shoot of their "No Surprises" video, Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke puts himself through pure agony as he tries to keep his head under water long enough for an extended camera take. ("No Surprises," it should be noted, was also directed by Gee). It's symbolic of the entire film: the band is jumping through hoops while trying (desperately) to maintain their composure. During one of the many press-conference sound bites heard in the movie, Yorke hypothesizes, "OK Computer is about everything being out of control." By the probing looks of Meeting People, that's a fair assumption. --Jason Verlinde

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