A Portrait of a Rocker: B Side. By Alex Purnell.
In a dimly lit bar at 2 am, an overzealous music executive gives an opportunity of a lifetime to a cover band, but only if they can create a totally original EP by the end of the week. A simple, 10-minute premise which boils down to a rather inane discussion, though it proves its worth as a proof-of-concept.
The tough world of the Rock-n-Roll music business is brimming with hot-shot, charismatic yet tough as nails music producers like Eddie Chapman (John Baker Butler), keeping a duo of young cover-artists long after dark to probe them of potential. A Portrait of a Rocker: B Side, directed by Joe Anderson and Nadine Vincent, gives us an intimate look inside one of these dark alley executive meetings, as many famous rock-stars started hitting it big after bumping into some suited businessman ready to milk them of their hard-earned talent.
Chapman holds the room in the palm of his hands, the power he channels entices the young musicians, Lloyd (John Rousseau) and Beck (Tate Dewy) as they drearily attempt to listen to his offer way past their bedtime. The larger-than-life executive harpers on about James Brown’s chaotic energy on stage, playing until he seemingly passes out, then reanimating himself back from the dead to continue to play for his legions of fans. – Why? It seems to inspire the boys, warming them up so the executive can offer them a deal they can’t refuse.
John Baker Butler does a stand-up performance, his obnoxious, booming voice seems to resonate through to the next room, Rousseau and Dewy also do a superb job as naive bandmates, especially as these low-budget shorts have a tendency to recruit peers and friends as actors.
Despite this, as a stand-alone film, it does struggle with its somewhat choppy script, butchered by awkward comedic quips that don’t deliver well and feel somewhat unnatural and forced, giving that frustrating student-film tag that is hard to shake off.
A Portrait of a Rocker: B Side has its issues, though as a proof-of-concept it works wonders definitely shows potential for a longer piece.
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