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STOREFRONT HITCHCOCK (director: Jonathan Demme; cinematographer: Tony C. Jannelli; editor: Andy Keir; music: Robyn Hitchcock; cast: Robyn Hitchcock, Deni Bonet, Tim Keegan; Runtime: 77; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producer: Peter Saraf; MGM; 1998)
“An intimate concert documentary on eccentric British singer-songwriter Robyn Hitchcock.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Eccentric American director Jonathan Demme (“Swimming to Cambodia”) presents an intimate concert documentary on eccentric British singer-songwriter Robyn Hitchcock. The 45-year-old singer has been a well-recognized popular cult figure since the late 1970s when he played with the Soft Boys. In the ’80s, Hitchcock formed the Egyptians band. In 1996 he went solo with his “Moss Elixir” album. It’s filmed in two days and set in a bare 14th Street Manhattan storefront, with Hitchcock adorned in a brown Hawaiian shirt singing his 14 songs to an unseen audience with his back to the street window that has a steady stream of passersby–which was at first a slight distraction. Demme’s other concert film was the Talking Heads’, “Stop Making Sense (1984).” How much you care for the film depends on how much you dig the flighty visionary’s sardonic folk-rock songs and how well you think he performed. I wasn’t carried away by the music or the performance, but I did find his free-association spiel between songs to have merit and show him to be a capable thinker with keen observations. At the singer’s best, he reminded me of the Incredible String Band at their peak. It surprised me to learn that his esoteric albums have sold in the excess of 100,000 copies. Though he didn’t convert me into his fan base, I can easily see why he’s so well-thought of by so many. What I never could decipher was what Demme was after in this film, other than obviously digging his singing, unless it was just to give the performer some more exposure. Also capably accompanying Hitchcock on several numbers are violinist Deni Bonet and guitarist Tim Keegan.

The tune I found most enjoyable was the bouncy “Let’s Go Thundering.”


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”