Rewind & Play (2022, Alain Gomis)

Grungy documentary outtakes, then a French TV studio – the idea being that Gomis is showing the rushes from a conventional half-hour Thelonious Monk TV appearance. We do get to hear him play more than once, first in a traveling shot around the studio where everyone else is chatting and not paying any attention, then for a few songs in a row after the interviews have gone badly.

A Michael Caine-ish host talks about Monk to the viewers in French while leaning on the piano, then they do retakes of the interview questions until it feels like Monk is caught in a Lynchian limbo. Monk suggests they forget the interview and go to dinner, they can’t have a conversation because the interviewer wants to rephrase everything in French and Monk won’t repeat the same answer twice in the same way. And certain topics are forbidden as “not nice.” This movie landed with good timing for me, as I’m “getting into jazz” and just watched a trio whose latest album is a Monk tribute.

Michael Sicinski on lboxd:

Gomis’s presentation of the material, largely untouched, not only displays the technical mechanics involved in “making TV,” although there’s that. When Monk doesn’t provide satisfactory answers to Renaud’s questions, the crew adopts a plan-b mode, showing Monk playing during extended shots, and then later shooting B-roll with Renaud pretending to listen appreciatively. But more than this, we are seeing how a media apparatus deals with an artist it finds difficult or uncooperative. French TV is trying to sell a product called “Thelonious Monk,” and the man himself is perceived as an impediment to that pandering.

Max Goldberg in Cinema Scope:

Rewind & Play brings to light the violence of getting an artist to say what you want them to say. Not coincidentally, it also centres the musical performances recorded for Jazz Portrait, allowing them to flow together as a solid block of song. Taken together, the two things insinuate a sharp critique of the standard music documentary.