Perhaps you should not go into any new movie at a documentary film festival with expectations. Even so, on the standard of promise versus actual result, Do It Again is among the more disappointing film offerings ever. Billed here in passing as “the Kinks movie,” it has, in fact, precious little to do with the Kinks. Boston Globe music writer Geoff Edgers sets out to reunite the famously combustive band members to, if nothing else, play a song with him—a blistering level of selfishness when accounting for all of the Kinks devotees he meets along the way. His obsessive efforts—inspired, people in the movie suggest, by the crisis of turning 40—takes him into the orbit of not only the Kinks, but music luminaries Sting, Peter Weller of the Jam, Robyn Hitchcock, Zooey Deschanel, and others, all of whom Edgers presses into the service of his grand dream by suggesting they play a song with him, the writer (only Weller refuses). Edgers’s impressive rock knowledge is peppered in with the various obstacles placed in his way, including, in one hot-tempered venting session, concern over cutbacks at the Globe by its parent company, The New York Times. He should be worried. He doesn’t seem to be spending much time at work.
Only about 30 percent of the film is of genuine interest: the interviews when Edgers is not talking, his historical expertise. But the old joke that critics become critics because they cannot hack it in the business—or the High Fidelity syndrome of the resentment of the geeks for being underappreciated scholars—is played out here to the worst extent. Edgers has no agency over the people at the heart of “his mission,” as he puts it, and so has no right other than the latent adolescent longing of a fanboy to make anything happen. His bitching that Kinks frontman Ray Davies refuses to be photographed, let alone interviewed, is thus all the more off-putting. The film falls into a contemporary trap familiar from the overzealous television correspondents who cut their nodding reaction shots into stories on the evening news, a cult-of-celebrity illusion that just because someone originated a project, the audience cares about the strain it took him to make it happen. Edgers, for example, offers an unconvincing reason for why the Kinks should be reunited over any other band: because he says so. Our attention should not come so cheap.
The Full Frame Documentary Film Festival runs from April 8 to 11.