Eating, Sleeping, Waiting, and Playing Review

Audio Rocket Review

Can music change society?

The French group AIR is not your typical Electronica band, and so it is only fitting that Mike Mills, a graphic designer who is not typically a film director, should be the one to make the concert documentary of their successful 1998 world tour. The movie is shot on Digital Video with meticulous attention paid to detail in a deep and resonating black and white photography that makes the Radiohead concert flick, "Making Friends is Easy," look like a rough draft waiting to be finished.

The film follows the French duo, Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoit Dunckel, along with their colorful touring band (including a hilariously candid bass player who can also regularly be seen performing with Beck), in and out of New York, London, and finally, the bands hometown territory in Paris.

How has music changed your perception of yourself?

Not only a concert bio pic, but a sort of tongue in cheek look at society at large, the film poses a series of questions to a recurring group of random "people on the street" that the filmmaker selects in each city. By the end of the hour-long piece, the audience is familiar enough with these initially superfluous characters to the point where they dont seem so extraneous at all, as this cast of completely diverse "real" people end up narrating the film. In a way, these sociological portraits end up setting the stage for when Mills actually does get to a concert scene. Their answers put AIRS sold-out performances into a cultural context that illustrates how random it is to be successful in such a world with almost no consensus, regardless of how complex or inane the topic might be.

What do you think of McDonalds?

The films sense of humor is the invisible character we are never introduced to by name; its presence comes across in the films self-awareness that the director creates through camerawork and structure. In one scene, Nicolas and Jean are attending one of their press junkets while in London. In a biting and merciless attack on the press, Mills gives us a seemingly endless series of really awful questions from various British reporters and then never dignifies them with waiting for any of the bands responses. The result is getting to really feel the range of emotions, from discomfort, to hilarity, to frustration, that the band members are clearly going through. It is apparent that its as hard for them to keep a straight face as it is for the audience to watch this scene without laughing about it.

Is it important to make money?

The music of AIR has been described as ambient, lounge, disco, pop, kitsch, and soundtrack music, to only name a few. Hard to categorize, one of the band members touring with the duo sums it up as "really intense and well-produced elevator musicand I mean that as a good thing." Mills uses the uncategorizable ethereal tunes to highlight and temper the mood of this somewhat uncategorizable documentary. Whether you are a fan of AIR or not, Eating, Sleeping, Waiting, & Playing is enjoyable as a piece of innovative concert filmmaking. It will be available on DVD and VHS on November 16th.