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I actually read 2 of the 3 books written about Jones and his demise, and if nothing else, the film is an accurate portrayal of the books. If you want to know what the last few months of his life were like, and also get a brief overview of how he got there (via flashbacks), then this movie will do it for you. If you want something else, then perhaps not. I would rather see a film on a subject like this get made with a low budget than not get made at all. Yes, some of the acting is bad, but some is very good as well. My only strong complaint is that the editing -- especially the sound editing -- is really poor. Especially the cuts/fades/transitions.
It has taken Stephen Woolley ten years to get this on to the screen, which allowed him plenty of time to do his research. He began by acquiring the film rights to the book, 'Who Killed Cock Robin?' and added the rights to the deathbed revelations of Frank Thorogood; then the rights to the book by Anna Wohlin, one of Jones' two current girlfriends. He topped this by hiring a private eye to find Janet, the other girlfriend, to get her confirmation about the size of the Stoned lifestyle and some of the details of Jones' death. He was also able to find a few original cameras including a vintage Bolex, to match the ancient film clips slotted into parts of the story. Getting any film made has to be an obsession, and a major one at that, if it takes ten years. What kept Woolley going was having been too young to be a hippy, the realisation that he had bought (as we all did) the PR stunt depicting the leather-clad speed-freak drunk-rolling Beatles as nice fluffy chaps and the middle-class cricket fans from Kingston-upon-Thames as the evil and dangerous Stones, ' Jagger was at the London School of Economics', and seeing Brian Jones as the only band member who was a genuine bad boy; 'the missing link' to the decadent bohemian world. He links this to the dichotomy between Brian, the studiedly effete and spoiled brat, and Frank (Considine), a real bloke, an ex-soldier, with whom Woolley found himself identifying. He says he screened 'Performance' for the cast before shooting began, to get them into the zeitgeist, (We of the hippy generation realised that we could measure the effect of the encroaching years and our possible maturity by noting how we moved from identifying with Turner to 'being' Chas), and in fact the shooting of the gun scene from that gets a quote here. There are many little bits of contemporary reference intercut, and all so nearly subliminal that the audience could miss them if it were not well-acquainted with them from the first time round and/or didn't posses a certain amount of quick-fire intelligence. It's pleasurably flattering to be a member of an audience which is assumed to have these qualities. When you can say it in twenty frames, why milk it? The opening scenes establish Brian (Gregory) as the kingpin, getting a gig by phone while the rest of the band waits outside the red box. Although not much later Andrew Loog Oldham sells himself to them as manager, most of the subsequent story dispenses with a strictly chronological narrative. The general situation moves on, but in bunches of flash-back, present and flash-forward. Time's tooty-fruity. What happened after the Stones got Big was a gift to a film maker: Frank is taken on as a builder to tart up Brian's little mansion and, in spite of the huge gaps between their respective cultures, becomes part of the Stone's world. The parallels between this reality and the fictional scenario of the contemporaneous Cammell-Roeg film, are fascinating and should form the basis of a PHD for some 'sixties-fixated student sooner or later. For the camera-work, colour, montage, in purely visual terms 'Stoned' is worth seeing, although it would have been well worth Gregory putting on several extra pounds to cover his taut, well-toned musculature - Brian was quite chubby in real life - in fact all the band members could have added a little more puppy-fat. One obvious failing in 'Stoned' is its lack of bloody marvellous soundtrack; but there's hardly a film out now without a bloody marvellous soundtrack, and there are plenty of precedents; Orson Welles' 'Touch of Evil', for instance. For lasting power a film has to stand as a film rather than an extended marketing device. As a film, this cuts it. CLIFF HANLEY
Anyway another topic about films...saw 'Stoned' last night. A film
about the life and death of the Rolling Stones member Brian Jones...The
death of whom was quite a shocking event at the time. I thoroughly
Directed by Stephen Woolley, with Leo Gregory as Jones and Paddy Considine as the man who lived closely with him, Frank Thorogood..
It was a very good surprise..
I had no expectations and was hooked from the start..The actors playing the young Stones were very good at creating the look, feel and attitude of the band and the design of the film, especially the make up of the women cast members, was just evocative of the time in the 60's..The music was excellent and the editing to the music was superb..Hooked me in from the word go...
Powerful British producer Stephen Woolley (Scandal, The Crying Game,
The End of the Affair) makes his directorial debut with a highly
absorbing and accomplished tale of the demise of the Rolling Stones
founder Brian Jones.
I can imagine that some people may be disappointed when they see this - they might be expecting a traditional high octane bio pic of the Stones, which this film most definitely is not. Evenly paced and very well shot, Woolley has based this film on three books that allege Jones was murdered rather than the victim of an unfortunate accident. The film therefore focuses on the three months leading up to his death, utilising stylised flashbacks of his life to flesh out the character and motivation of Jones.
He has cast newcomer Leo Gregory (who was outstanding in Out of Control) as Jones, and Paddy Considine as builder Frank Thorogood (the alleged murderer). Stoned is very considered and grown up. I liked it a great deal.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Being huge fans of the Stones - and Brian Jones in particular - my
girlfriend and I eagerly anticipated the little publicised release of
Stoned. We made the journey to our local cinema and sat side by side,
hardly uttering a word throughout, and watched as the life of one of
the greatest musicians our shores have ever produced, slowly ebbed away
- we were not disappointed. Having read The Geoffrey Giuliano book
documenting Brian's death, I felt the film offered an authentic
portrayal of the weeks leading up to that fateful night when Brian
Jones boarded a celestial plane to the other world or in other words,
was found face down in his swimming pool at Cotchford Farm.
Leo Gregory put in a fine performance as Jones - cruel, paranoid, vulnerable, needy, flippant, kind, fickle, sadistic, brilliant - and Paddy Considine was great (as always) as Frank Thoroughgood, the builder/hanger-on, riding first class on the Brian Jones gravy train. As the relationship between the two main characters developed, I must admit that I found myself feeling a little sympathy for Thoroughgood (but then I reminded myself that this was the man who robbed us of the founding member of the Rolling Stones), having to endure Brian's unreasonable demands, mood swings, mind games and mental humiliations. Thoroughgood however, seemed quite willing to put up with such behaviour for the sake of his new lifestyle, away from the mediocrity of normal life. As the film progressed, we watched as Thoroughgood's resentment and jealousy consumed him, culminating in the cold-blooded killing of Brian Jones thus creating a legend.
The film is entertaining, well written and in my opinion, well acted. I was interested to read a previous review left on this site by an author who was rather disappointed with the film. Well, to counteract two of the author's points: 1 - This was not a film about the Rolling Stones, but a film about Brian Jones and the events that led to his untimely death. 2 - There was too much sex and nudity in the film? Nonsense! Brian Jones was a rock star who loved - and lived - the sex and drugs lifestyle, so much so, that his addictions and inability to cope with the trappings played a huge part in his eventual downfall. The sex/drug scenes were an integral part of the film and were undoubtedly there to show us the kind of lifestyle that Jones was leading at the time. I personally thought the scenes which showed Jones basking in the glory of his drug and sex fuelled existence were brilliantly done - hazy flashbacks, quick fixes and foggy mornings after.
The ending is a little odd, showing the ghost of Brian talking to Tom Keylock, and the soundtrack could have been better, but apart from that, a thoroughly enjoyable insight into the life and times of a true rock legend, the inimitable Brian Jones. Rock on!
I'm afraid that 'Classic Rockher' has completely missed the point! Director Stephen Woolley has spent well over 10 years researching this film so as to paint as accurate a picture as possible of the suspicious death of Brian Jones. I know it may be difficult for die-hard fans to accept, but The Rolling Stones was founded by Brian Jones!!! Keef and that art school student poser, Mick Jagger, were recruited into the band by Brian. Brian's love was for 'the blues' of Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters and Elmore James ... and hence the lack of over played 60's Stones tunes in the film. Stephen tracked down the likes of Anita Pallenberg, Brian's ex girlfriend who had disappeared back to her native Germany many years before, to make a film about Brian's death NOT a film about the Stones. One theory is that he was killed by his builder/chauffeur/gopher, Frank Thorogood, who was sacked the morning of Brian's death and has himself since died in 1993. I believe this film portrays the most accurate view on the last sad days of genius Brian Jones. 'Classic Rockher' come on - wake up and smell the coffee!!! Bob the Binman
The opening shots of the film shows an early stones line up under the leadership of Brian Jones getting their first gig. It is stylishly shot in black and white and as they roll through little red rooster a camera takes stills of the action. Then from the slow blues rift you are suddenly thrust to the frantic end as Brian is found dead in the pool. It is the stark contrast that works well and shocks the viewer into the heart of scene. Then the incredibly tragic and eccentric life of Brian Jones is told in a heady mix of flashback drug trips and sly nods to 'performance'. Leo Gregory stumbles through the film as Brian much like Michael Pitt did as Kurt Cobain in Van Sant's 'last days', you already know the outcome but it's the road on which you get there that forms the backbone of the plot. As Jones becomes more estranged, paranoid, wildly extravagant and more drug fuelled it begins to rub off on frank the builder who is doing work on Brian's house. Brian being bored and in need of not only a nanny but a drinking partner takes frank under his wing to a certain extent. But Jones being the flamboyant pop star doesn't see frank as anything more than a builder and taunts him until its too late. Frank see Jones' world of excess and wants in, although when he finds it out of reach that want turns to anger and jealousy. If you approach this film looking for a story of the stones you wont find it, this film like last days is a film that shows one mans downfall and the lives of those around him who should have helped. Jones portrayed as never happier than when making music is rock and roll myth personified. Without the tragic end to his life, the question is posed, would anyone still remember the tortured genius behind the stones early formation? There is obviously a love for the era and Jones from director Woolley, who not afraid to show Jones' vulnerable side also tries to show the man behind the myth. Whether a fan of the band or not this is an interesting film full of directing techniques and skillful editing that blend into a heady mix of rock and roll excess which takes the viewer to the sixties and back through one of the most interesting stories of the time.
No, one should not expect a fictionalization of the Stones' story, but one does expect a reasonable attempt at a depiction of Brian Jones' time with them. As it is, the Stones are peripheral characters in the screenplay. Apart from a few bluesy jams, their own music is absent entirely. The story focuses on the relationships between Jones and his foreman/com-padre Frank Thorogood, out at the rock star's country estate. The large house is conspicuously the movie's prime set. Fine, 'Stoned' had a low budget. Then again, it's from a real-life story which was basically made up of people talking, fighting and falling over. Not so fine is that 'Stoned' had to be so bad. One of the hardest things to swallow about 'Stoned' was the casting of Leo Gregory as Jones. He does little characterization beyond a 'fatalistic' smile, and although 27 years old himself (Jones' age at the time of his death), on screen he looks ten years older and wears a risible array of mail-order hairpieces to represent the varying Jones eras. At times he looks like a young Jon Pertwee in a fright wig. The direction by Stephen Wooley is wildly erratic and at times laughable. Jefferson Airplane's 'White Rabbit' underscoring an acid trip scene is the hack cinematic equivalent of the 'city/pretty' hack songwriting rhyme. It took Wooley ten years to put this botch-up together? Looks more like it was desperately cobbled together late Sunday night and breathlessly handed in by the Monday 9AM deadline. Another Bad Movie Night contender.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The turbulent life and mysterious death of Rolling Stones guitarist and founder Brian Jones has all the elements of a cracking thriller, and has already inspired at least three books prior to this film. "Stoned" concentrates largely on the relationship that developed between Brian Jones and Frank Thorogood, the building contractor hired to spruce up his dilapidated country pile, in the final, fateful months of the musician's life. While this bond strengthens and ultimately, inevitably sours, flashbacks tell the key events of Jones's earlier life his disintegrating relationship with model Anita Pallenberg; his spiralling addictions to drink and drugs; and his increasing estrangement from a band he still thought of as his long after Jagger and Richards had wrestled the creative reigns from him. While the story of a working class outsider being inexorably drawn into the decadent demi-monde of a fading and reclusive rock star has already been told with far more style and imagination in "Performance", thanks largely to the talents of Britain's finest young actor, Paddy Considine, as Thorogood, it's not here that this film falls down. Rather it is director Woolley's inability to resist hackneyed clichés and ham-fisted symbolism that makes "Stoned" such a chore at times. For instance, when Jones takes a swing at Pallenberg in a Moroccan hotel room, inadvertently smashing a mirror, Woolley can't help but give us a shot of Brian's despairing reflection in the shattered glass; likewise, as Jones sinks to the bottom of his swimming pool in the final reel, a shooting star streaks across the night sky (no, really); while the decision to use Jefferson Airplane's "White Rabbit" to score an acid trip is an 'idea' so trite that the screen practically groans beneath the weight of it's obviousness. And that's not the only soundtrack faux pas either actual Rolling Stones recordings are conspicuous by their absence, while the use of music by The White Stripes and, of all people, Kula Shaker, jars like the sudden appearance of a digital watch in a Merchant Ivory period drama. That said, the action rattles along with gusto, and the non-linear narrative structure is confidently handled, meaning that, despite his best attempts, Woolley doesn't quite manage to make a complete pig's ear out of this silk purse.
In retrospect a musician who did not compose the songs for which he/she is famous would not ordinarily be remembered 40 years after. However, if the musician started the greatest rock n roll band in the world, lived the life of their best songs and contributed immensely to the music of the sixties, mastering many musical instruments and styles as well as promoting them, they are not just an ordinary musician. Although the film documents Brian's fascination with the Blues in his early years and living a decadent jaded life in his later years it fails to impress on the uninitiated the sparkle of sitars, early synth work, recorders, etc, etc that Brian enhanced the pop charts with on his journey through the sixties. None of the original Rolling Stones songs are present and although the covers, etc, represent the decade they do not adequately represent Brian's gift to music. I believe this is copyright related but actually sums up the frustrations of his life that he was not allowed to share composing credits, etc and was basically conned out of ownership of the band in the process. Brian Jones's death was a tragedy but his life was marred by controversy balanced against fine work as a musician which should be remembered most and probably is a bit by the end of the film, though not as much as I would have liked to see.
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