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  You Are What You Eat A Feast For The SensesBuy this film here.
Year: 1968
Director: Barry Feinstein
Stars: Eleanor Baruchian, Malcolm Boyd, Paul Butterfield, David Crosby, Dave Dixon, John Herald, Sharmagne Leland-St. John, Barry McGuire, Rosko, John Simon, Ringo Starr, Super Spade, Tiny Tim, Peter Yarrow, Frank Zappa
Genre: Documentary, Weirdo, Music
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: The year is 1968 and the hippies of America are making themselves heard, taking to the streets to bring bright, colourful flower power to the world, often emanating from the Haight Ashbury area of San Francisco. As all this is going on, the pot dealer Super Spade (as himself) is hanging on the telephone trying to persuade some girls or other to come around to his place and spend some time with him, though he's not very successful in that endeavour. But soon we alter our perceptions with some of the most happening bands and individuals on the counterculture scene...

You Are What You Eat was probably better known as an album than a movie as it became a cult record for its melange of tunes and vocal samples (including the weird voice inquiring "What does it all mean?" which found its way onto Bomb the Bass's Beat Dis some twenty years later), but there was indeed a source for all this. Or rather, it could have been the album was the source of the film, for there was an opinion that the film was the first to be created solely to publicise the album instead of the more customary other way around. Whether that was true or whether they were in fact crafted simultaneously was a question left unanswered.

But what we did know was that it had been the brainchild of Peter Yarrow from sensitive folksters Peter, Paul and Mary, and he had helped put that soundtrack together, calling in favours from his contemporaries to contribute to a work that attempted to sum up the spirit of the age, not tell a linear story, with legendary album cover photographer Barry Feinstein at the helm. Even for a documentary this was a mishmash, whimsically hopping from one brief clip to the next where it was easy to either get lost in its barrage of imagery and sound, or alternatively allow the whole experience to wash over you. Of course, there were always those who wanted to identify what it was they were watching, no mean feat when they packed so much into it.

One celebrity very recognisable indeed was Tiny Tim, sans ukelele this time, who crooned no less than three tunes and did nothing to solve the mystery of his sincerity and if he really was in on the joke. Actually, the way his scenes were edited was something of a joke in itself, most memorably with his shaky falsetto whining out Be My Baby intercut with hysterical Beatles fans at one of their final concerts to make it appear as if Tim had the adulation the Fab Four deserved. Later he duetted with romantic partner Eleanor Baruchian (with a Nico-esque deeper voice) on the inevitable I Got You Babe, yet it was a mark of it not being too apparent how seriously all this was intended to be that you couldn't work out whose leg was being pulled, if anyone's.

Elsewhere was equally inevitable bongo playing in the Californian desert, though there were as many bright young things cavorting as there were fat, hairy, older blokes taking their shirts off, suggesting a humorous point to all this as well as the more psycehdelic mind-expanding shenanigans. Unfortunately, not only would this mean most to the people who lived through it, it would mean most to those who made the movie, as there was very little movement towards inclusion, no matter that we'd see a Reverend preaching, which then contrasted with a guru pontificating, and a nun, or someone dressed as a nun, plonked into the action at random moments. Frank Zappa was seen playing with The Mothers of Invention at a club, but frustratingly for his adherents the music accompanying him was of someone else, yet a lot of this was from the spot the celeb school of filmmaking. The most familiar song was covered by Manfred Mann soon after, the Greta Garbo Home one, you know it...
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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