‘Bunch of Kunst’ review: Nothing gets in the way of the punch

Cheeky title for fly-on-the-wall documentary on the Sleaford Mods

Sleaford Mods vocalist Jason Williamson in Bunch of Kunst

Film Title: Bunch of Kunst

Director: Christine Frantz

Starring: Andrew Fearn, Jason Williamson

Genre: Documentary

Running Time: 104 min

Wed, Apr 19, 2017, 10:04

   

Early on in this workaday documentary on Sleaford Mods, we catch sight of the busy bookshelf in vocalist Jason Williamson’s well-ordered home. The only two legible spines are those of Howard Marks’s Mr Nice and Owen Jones’s Chavs: The Demonisation of The Working Class. A cheap analysis of the Mods’ records – barked-out urban commentary within a scaffolding of industrial electronics – would find all it needed to know in that shot.

The Nottingham band cannot, however, be so easily reduced. There’s something of The Fall in their bleakly busy depictions of working-class life. But the Mods have stripped their aesthetic down to its raw essentials. Nothing gets in the way of the punch.

Christine Franz’s cheekily titled film (speak it carefully when buying a ticket) does nothing we haven’t seen before in other fly-on-the wall rockumentaries. We talk to the family. We visit Glastonbury for a slightly uncomfortable gig. We are taken around the tour bus and, thanks to the duo’s stubborn lack of pretension, encounter few significant reminders of This is Spinal Tap.

Followers of the band will appreciate confirmation that both Mods – into their 40s before discovering fame – come across as relatively settled, impressively realistic individuals. The shots of Jason doing his vocal exercises before going on stage are more suggestive of Larry Olivier than Iggy Pop (a declared Mods enthusiast).

But Franz makes no efforts to win over those unfamiliar with or resistant to the Sleaford Sound. No influences are discussed. No keys are offered to unlock the lyrics’ dense appeal. Biographical details are bizarrely scanty for musicians of such relatively advanced age.

There is also no attempt to address the overpowering maleness and whiteness of the bands’ following. We barely see a black face in the entire film. The front row of each gig is dominated by shaved, middle-aged, male, white heads, all shouting slogans in unison. Such people deserve a voice as much as anybody else and Jason, a Green Party voter, seems a perfectly decent fellow.

Still, it’s an iffy look.

Sleaford Mods: bleakly busy depictions of working-class life
Sleaford Mods: bleakly busy depictions of working-class life