AGILE, MOBILE, HOSTILE: A YEAR WITH ANDRE WILLIAMS (Eric Matthies and Tricia Todd, U.S.). 86 minutes. Saturday (June 14), 1:15 pm, at the NFB Cinema (150 John, 416-?973-?3012). $10, free w/ NXNE wristband (see page 62). Rating: NNN
There’s no question that the insanely colourful career of R&B hustler Andre Williams would make an incredible movie. Unfortunately, this low-?budget documentary snapshot of a single trouble-?fraught year near the end of the eternal hipster’s crazy career run isn’t really the film fans have been waiting for.
Music-video-director-?turned-?documentary-filmmaker Eric Matthies and wife Tricia Todd do an impressive job of keeping up with the wiry Williams through the U.S. and Europe to capture the behind-?the-?scenes drama as it happened. But they’re far too focused on the daily health and finance problems faced by the 71-?year-?old showman scuffling for his life, rather than his numerous achievements. Instead of displaying a pile of 7-?inch singles, presumably meant to illustrate Williams’s vast recorded output, they should’ve had Berry Gordy, Jr. or Stevie Wonder on camera saying that if it weren’t for Williams, there wouldn’t have been a Motown label.
Without clarifying why Williams is such an important player in 20th-?century popular music, Matthies and Todd are unable to put his sad current state in proper historical perspective. Whatever good intentions the budding movie moguls may have had with Agile, Mobile, Hostile, they’ve made Williams look like a pathetic figure rather than a tragic one.