My Year of Opera 9: 200 Motels

“And as soon as he put out both his eyes, he kinda wished he hadn’t.” Narrator in Oedipus Tex by Peter Schickele.

So Frank Zappa’s 200 Motels was on Netflix and was set to expire on March 1. I originally thought it was a pseudo-documentary but when 200 Motels showed up in recent news about being staged later this year, I then took it to be more of a music drama. And, well, I sat down to watch it. And I kind of wished I hadn’t.

I love Zappa. I do. He was a vibrant and talented composer/guitarist who assembled bands of amazing musical abilities. They aren’t actors, though, and certainly didn’t have the chops to make the non-musical elements anything but painful to watch. I could barely stomach it, honestly. It seemed less like a well thought-out event than Zappa and the Mothers of Invention dicking around with a movie camera. It was probably fun for them to do but it certainly wasn’t fun for me to watch. It was most like sitting with a friend’s group of friends and hearing them talk in nonsensical meta-references.

I was severely disappointed in this film but maybe I had artificially high expectations because Zappa+opera should always = awesome. Like Joe’s Garage.

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