Gorillaz remain a point of inspiration in British music.
A truly multi-media, cross platform endeavour, the project's 2018 album 'The Now Now' saw them work alongside a host of guests under the supervision of producer James Ford.
Released to ecstatic acclaim, it saw Gorillaz link with everyone from rap force Little Simz to George Benson, as well as mending bridges with Noel Gallagher.
New film Gorillaz: Reject False Icons documents aspects of the creative process, with director Denholm Hewlett gaining unheard of access.
Moving between animated and physical realms, it features Gorillaz founders Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett at work in the studio, alongside a roll call that features a few of their lauded guests.
A space where the virtual meets the real, Gorillaz: Reject False Icons is out tonight - December 16th - as part of a global screening event.
Clash writer Milo Wasserman caught an up-front glimpse of the film - here's what he gleaned from it...
- - -
1. Gorillaz are one big, big family
As Damon Albarn attests, over 100 actors, musicians and artists have been involved in the Gorillaz’ musical output across 'Humanz' and 'The Now Now' as well as the world tour this film chronicles.
Aussie actor Ben Mendelsohn makes a few appearances, mainly cracking a few gags and doing some surreal voice work. Kali Uchis, Mavis Staples, Danny Brown, Vince Staples, Jenny Beth and many, many others come and go. Gorillaz have a pull that not many artists could command - everyone wants in.
More importantly, for those involved there are positive vibes everywhere. Their togetherness is clear as they all join, arms interlocked, in a circle of positivity before every show.
2. Damon Albarn is as infectiously enthusiastic, charismatic and charming as ever
The gold tooth, the goofy smile, the energy. It’s all there, and it’s easy to see how Albarn carries his merry circus. Even when they only had five weeks to record 'The Now Now' in the middle of a world tour, we never saw any sign of personality clashes, issues in the relationship between sound and image, or tour induced exhaustion.
The man is a force of nature.
3. Peven Everett is electric, on and off the stage
Out of all the talented artists involved in the film, one stands out: Peven Everett.
Getting to know Chicago Royalty Everett throughout the movie, he comes across as eminently likeable, infectiously enthusiastic and, obviously, enviably talented. He is certainly an able to deputy to the late Bobbie Womack. Everett is the sort of guy you would work with in a heartbeat. And introduce to your mum.
4. Jamie Hewlett's artwork is stunning, but there could be more on show…
Okay, so we all knew this. For over 20 years we’ve salivated over Hewlett Sr.’s work in bringing to life the original four Gorillaz concept characters. And having waited so many years for a film (this is the second after Ceri Levy’s 2008 piece Bananaz), we were hoping to get more of a behind-the-scenes look at Jamie Hewlett’s creative process.
However, Reject False Icons prioritises studio footage over a deeper look at how the visuals are created. Maybe Hewlett Jr. wanted to make sure Dad didn’t become the star of the show.
5. Denholm Hewlett is still raw
This was a big opportunity for Denholm Hewlett to make an early name for himself. Given how instantly recognisable and distinct Gorillaz artwork is, there was always going to be pressure on Denholm as a film maker to firmly step out of his father’s shadow. After all, no one wants to be known as Someone Else’s Kid.
In the end, the story lacked cohesion. It is hard to gain a real insight into the inner workings of Gorillaz when the film is largely a series of vignettes of Albarn and his merry crew larking around in the studio. In short, the final cut feels more like a sentimental, unprovocative journey than a revealing glimpse into what makes the band tick.
Are Murdoc, 2-D, Noodle and Russel are being fazed out...?
One noticeable absence from the film was the, rightly iconic, original conceptual band members. Evolution is inevitable, and after 20 years Murdoc, 2-D, Noodle and Russel are gradually being overwhelmed. To say they are being marginalised feels crude, although maybe we’re just feeling a touch nostalgic. We’re not suggesting all good things come to an end, maybe they just evolve.
- - -
Gorillaz: Reject False Icons hits cinemas tonight (December 16th) around the globe - find tickets HERE.
Join us on the ad-free creative social network Vero, as we get under the skin of global cultural happenings. Follow Clash Magazine as we skip merrily between clubs, concerts, interviews and photo shoots. Get backstage sneak peeks, exclusive content and access to Clash Live events and a true view into our world as the fun and games unfold.