Brothers of the Head (Keith Fulton, Louis Pepe). 90 minutes. Opens Friday (August 18). For venues and times, see Movies, page 92. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
Combining elements of This Is Spinal Tap, Gimme Shelter and the TV series Carnivàle, this feature debut by documentary filmmakers Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe is an exhilarating tale of fame, freaks and rock and roll.
For their faux documentary, Fulton and Pepe take a high-concept premise - twin brothers conjoined at the hip form a rock band in 1970s England - and firmly ground it in the lurid, sexually charged reality of the era.
After the twins, Tom and Barry Howe (identical but not conjoined brothers Luke and Harry Treadway ), are signed by a sleazy impresario, they rise to fame amidst a lovingly detailed portrait of the mid-70s punk scene. When a female reporter ( Tania Emery ) is introduced, the twins' egos become severely twisted, and their careers spiral out of control.
Between the delicate camera work and the authentic, original soundtrack, the directors also manage to fit in a thin layer of postmodernism. Every so often, fake "deleted scenes" from an unfinished film about the twins supposedly directed by Ken Russell are playfully inserted into the film.
While the ending is a bit too clearly forecast in the story's first 15 minutes, the ambitious narrative and strong performances guarantee it will achieve some level of cult popularity.