Brothers Of The Head

Faced with visionary sci-fi writer Brian Aldiss' strange 1977 illustrated novel about a pair of conjoined twins who wind up fronting a controversial mid-'70s band, filmmakers Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe (LOST IN LA MANCHA) respond with a stylish, cleverly constructed mockumentary filled with strong performances and surprisingly good original music. So why...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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Faced with visionary sci-fi writer Brian Aldiss' strange 1977 illustrated novel about a pair of conjoined twins who wind up fronting a controversial mid-'70s band, filmmakers Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe (LOST IN LA MANCHA) respond with a stylish, cleverly constructed mockumentary filled with strong performances and surprisingly good original music. So why does it feel so dull? British pop impresario Zak Bedderwick (Howard Attfield), who lost his meal ticket when the lead singer of the Noize died in a car crash, thinks he's found the next big thing in Tom and Barry Howe (Harry and Luke Treadaway), twins raised in isolation by their widowed father on a stormy stretch of English's eastern coast known as L'Estrange Head. What makes the brothers of the Head unusual — and, Bedderwick hopes, a surefire draw — is that they were born joined at the chest and never separated. Undereducated and possessed of no discernible musical talent, the boys are less than diamonds in the rough. But Bedderwick sees the potential in a pair of pretty adolescents whose teen-idol looks get a kinky erotic kick from that eternal embrace. He installs them in Oxfordshire estate Humbleden Hall, where mild-mannered Tom learns guitar and angry Barry scrawls down his dark musings about identity and life on the Head. Backed by the surviving members of the Noize and dubbed the Bang Bang, they make live appearances at local pubs, where protopunk anthems like "Two-Way Romeo" and "The Bang Bang" have an incendiary effect on unsuspecting audiences. Fueled by Bedderwick's hype, and by rock journalists like Laura (Tania Emery), who falls for the gentle Tom, the Bang Bang's notoriety grows. But so do Barry's demons: He takes to drugs, alcohol and heeding the disorienting whispers of a third Howe brother who may or may not have recently awakened from his sleep deep within Barry's head. Beautifully assembled from snatches of ersatz interviews, super-8 footage and audio tracks, Aldiss' tale is extremely well told: Using cleverly faked footage from a nonexistent unfinished Ken Russell feature about the brothers entitled "Two-Way Romeo" — with on-screen commentary by Russell himself — is brilliant. But despite some excitingly shot concert footage, one scene begins to feel very much like the next, and it's all rather predictable; none of the lurid details of the Bang Bang's career can really compare to, say, the Go-Go's True Hollywood Story. Nevertheless, the period details are perfect and the original songs, written by record producer Clive Langer, whose own 1979 EP I Want the Whole World is a small masterpiece, are as good as — if not better than — the majority of music from that now-legendary era.

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