With unfettered access to the Zappa family trust and all archival footage, filmmaker Alex Winter explores the private life behind the mammoth musical career that never shied away from the political turbulence of its time.

"As a rock star who most people have heard of but couldn’t identify one of his songs, Frank Zappa had a somewhat perverse relationship to fame. The Zappa who comes through in Alex Winter’s appreciative but sometimes cutting documentary that bears the iconoclast’s name held the music industry in almost as much contempt as he did many of his fans. More than once during its 126-minute runtime, Zappa suggests that for the musician concerts weren’t opportunities to commune with like-minded souls, but, rather, extended rehearsal sessions that just happened to include people who weren’t in his band.

"Fittingly for an icon with such conflicted feelings about his status, the documentary is determined not to be a typical rock-god story with predictable rise-and-fall arcs. Not so much filmed as compiled, Zappa is a flickering mash-up of juddering home movies, concert footage, monster flicks, and animation culled from Zappa’s archive. Instead of encomiums about his greatness from rock journalists, the loving yet often frustrated-sounding interviews are with band members, friends, family, and the odd hanger-on (like queen groupie Pamela Des Barres, who describes the parade of icons from the Rolling Stones to David Bowie who trekked to Zappa’s Laurel Canyon home to commune with one of the era’s trailblazers). There’s also plenty of material featuring Zappa himself, compiled from the apparently endless hours that he spent talking to the media that he treated with a cheery brand of contempt." - Slant


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