SXSW Movie Review: Bananaz


Bananaz, Ceri Levy’s behind-the-scenes/tour documentary centered on Gorillaz, the virtual band created by Damon Albarn, lead singer and songwriter for the Brit-pop band, Blur, and Jamie Hewlett, the co-creator of Tank Girl, is, alas, the kind of insular, for-fans-only documentary that means a limited theatrical run, if any, and a somewhat appreciative audience on DVD for completists of Gorillaz-centered merchandise or material. Even Gorillaz fans, though, might find themselves bored or otherwise disengaged from Levy’s loose, unstructured, and ultimately self-indulgent approach to the Gorillaz phenomenon.

Bananaz follows Albarn and Hewlett as they formulate the concept behind the Gorillaz and the four amine-influenced band members, 2D, Murdoc, Noodle and Russel, that exist only in paper and ink drawings or as ones and zeroes in a computer program. Critical of what they saw as manufactured pop bands (e.g., boy bands), Albarn and Hewlett decided to go them one better and take the concept to the extreme, a virtual band co-created by Albarn, who’d provide the music (along with numerous collaborators), and Hewlett, who’d design the characters and direct or supervise the music videos. The band’s first, self-titled album, released in 2001, sold more than seven million copies worldwide. The second album, Demon Days, was released in 2005 to critical acclaim and received five Grammy Award nominations and won for “Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals” category.

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