Review: Be Dazzled By The Bedazzling Chilly Gonzales In 'Shut Up And Play The Piano' (2018)

on Sunday, November 11, 2018
Words: Saam Das

First-time feature director Philipp Jedicke ambitiously showcases Canadian musician Jason Beck (more popularly known as the enigmatic Chilly Gonzales) in this playful music documentary. Charting the genre-defying history of Gonzales from his childhood in Canada to his more recent Grammy Award-winning work with Daft Punk and his appearances with world famous concert orchestras, by way of an underground rap career in Berlin. An unusual career path to say the least, aptly covered in 'Shut Up And Play The Piano'.

To contrast the fairly standard talking heads approach which features the likes of Feist and Jarvis Cocker, Jedicke wisely uses the propulsive energy and flamboyance of Gonzales as the driving force behind 'Shut Up And Play The Piano'. This is particularly apparent when showcasing archive promotional and gig footage direct from the virtuoso’s storied history, including early collaborations with absurdist electro-punk artist Peaches.

It’s never quite clear where Jason Beck stops and Chilly Gonzales begins, lending the film a mystery and mischief that runs parallel to its frantic performance art. For example, take the section of the film where Gonzales bizarrely auditions actors to recreate larger-than-life antics from his past, packaged alongside a terrific orchestral performance of 'Beans' from his 'Unspeakable Chilly Gonzales' album. We're left with the rather delightful sense that the next great caper is merely around the corner.

Perhaps more could be made of the relationship/rivalry with his Hollywood film composer sibling Christophe Beck, whose most recent work can be heard in 'Ant-Man And The Wasp', but nonetheless Philipp Jedicke’s portrait of Chilly Gonzales is compelling viewing that appeals to seasoned fans and newcomers alike.


'Shut Up And Play The Piano' had its UK premiere at the 2018 BFI London Film Festival. The film screens with an exclusive Q&A for London's Doc'n'Roll Fest at the Barbican on Monday 12 November 2018.

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