‘Zappa’ Review: A Smart and Simple Portrait of Rock’s Most Unclassifiable Genius

‘Zappa’ Review: A Smart and Simple Portrait of Rock’s Most Unclassifiable Genius
Sooner or later, any commercially viable documentary about the life and work of avant-garde musician Frank Zappa — outsider art’s ultimate inside man — has to grapple with the same headache from which Zappa suffered for the length of his career: the hostile relationship between commerce and creation. The biologically improbable love child of a time-bending orgy between Igor Stravinsky, Weird Al Yankovic, Jacob Collier, and Led Zeppelin (or maybe it would be easier to just call him a true original), the self-appointed Mother of Invention was a composer by nature, and a rock star by necessity.

He strove to create music that was alive with the same unbridled sense of freedom as he was; music that captured the absurdity of this world and served it back to the masses on wax. As Zappa is heard saying in the new and Alex Winter documentary that bears his name: “A lot of
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