For all of the mystery and legal controversy surrounding Robert Frank’s unstructured cinema verite Rolling Stones documentary, filmed during their 1972 Exile on Main Street tour, the proof in the pudding is fairly prosaic. Although the film was originally commissioned by the Stones, the band took issue with its less than flattering image of its backstage and hotel room shenanigans that famously included drug use and sex. A court ruling decreed that the film could only be shown with Robert Frank present, although it is, at the time of this writing, available online. Cocksucker Blues takes its intentionally profane title from the title of a final song that Mick Jagger wrote to fulfill the band’s contract to Decca Records. Sadly, the nasty little ditty appears nowhere in the movie. The film’s highlight occurs during a live performance of Satisfaction, with Stevie Wonder contributing to a magnificent moment of concert inspiration. Another bit of charming cool occurs with a shirtless Keith Richards playing boogie woogie on a hotel room piano. Frank left various cameras around for anyone to pick up and film whatever they wanted, and the result is a sloppy time capsule of early ‘70s rock ’n’ roll excess. Cocksucker Blues is interesting from a time capsule point of view, but doesn’t hold up as much of a movie. —Colesmithey.com
Following his emigration to the U.S. in 1947, Robert Frank documented life in South America, Europe and specifically in the U.S. with his camera. After the publication of his seminal photographic collection, The Americans, Frank went to work as an avant garde filmmaker. His first film Pull My Daisy (1959), with voiceover by Jack Kerouac, tracks the then newly-designated Beat Generation; the film is generally considered a cornerstone of avant garde cinema due to its unusual juxtapositions and improvisation. Beginning with Me and My Brother (1965-68) Frank began to blur the line between documentary filmmaking and reality by including more staged, traditional storytelling elements. Cocksucker Blues, his 1972 documentary about a Rolling Stones tour, calls into disturbing question just what is real and what is fiction in the context of life on the road with a rock band. Multi-image and multi-media has become a hallmark of Frank’s filmmaking, which almost universally casts an eye on himself… read more
Absolutely amazing piece of documentary! Where else are you gonna see Mick Jagger smoking joints and snorting coke or Keith Richards wasted 24/7 on heroin? Robert Frank's cinematographic style resembles experimental movies of Antony Balch and definitely makes it worth your while!
In our annual poll, we pair our favorite new films of 2012 with older films seen in the same year to create fantastic double features.