Saturday, September 6, 2014

BUFF 2014: The Ballad Of Johnny Windows (2014)

The Ballad Of Johnny Windows

What is the definition of a rock star?  Is it someone who plays music that people want to hear? Or is it someone that lives the rock and roll lifestyle?  This is the eternal dilemma for Johnny Windows.

Johnny (Cem Pakiry-Turgut) is a rocker from Kentish Town desperately trying to write a song with his bandmate Scott Free (John Glynn), a horny drug-fuelled dubstep producer.  They are temporarily reeling from the loss of their loser frontman Brent (Piers Robinson) who has been poached by egomaniac faux-talent scout Hilton Constellation (Patrick Koupland).

The one person who does believe in Johnny is documentary filmmaker Reni Mint (Sureni Kay), whose film we are watching as Johnny’s new band Phantom Power prepare for the Kentish Kreep, a grimy festival that they’ve managed to secure the headline slot.  Johnny has to figure out the direction of his band that will appease his traditional-song-writing dad Jackie (Joey Montana) and his sonic-representation-of-modern-broken-Britain electronic Scott.

The story is split into 7 chapters, one per day in the run up to the festival, and you can tell the trajectory of the narrative by the titles – Verse, Chorus, Breakdown, Solo, Chorus – obviously there are ups and downs on the way to the gig…

The film combines musical interludes similar to Flight of the Conchords with the campy cockney of Lock Stock and two Smoking Barrels, all set on the streets of dirty hipster Kentish Town.  The characters are funny, the locations are funny, and the dialogue is funny yet the musical moments hold it all together by actually being quite touching.  There is a moment where Johnny and Jackie sit down to play guitar together that actually feels poignant, before it descends into humour as it’s apparent that Johnny the rocker can’t solo…

The target audience for the film is definitely the type of Londoner who can understand the nuance of jokes about Kentish Town, Luton and Shepherds Bush – but if you’re in the North London bubble then for 52 minutes Johnny Windows will be your new favourite loser.

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