Tale of Two Johns

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Movie documentaries can veer in many directions, from shocking investigative reporting, like Errol Morris' The Thin Blue Line, to nine-hour Ken Burns indulgences that require more Dramamine than a Yanni concert. Where rock 'n' roll is concerned, however, the lens almost always follows the artist, from public to private. So, then, what more interesting band to document than Brooklyn-based duo They Might Be Giants?

For almost 20 years, the duo of John Flansburgh and John Linnell has turned the word quirky into an intellectual property all its own. Since its eponymous 1986 debut, the pair has stamped its own brand of freeform pop-rock on the musical map. With the newly released documentary Gigantic: A Tale of Two Johns, the guys brush off the dust of the buzz bins and get their overdue homage, thanks to director A.J Schnack. Said Flansburgh in a recent interview with IGN.com: "A couple of years ago, [Schnack] just gave us a call wanting to make a documentary about the band, but it didn't really interest us at first since we don't really go to great lengths to put ourselves forward."

Schnack eventually won approval, though, and began an in-depth examination of the band, filming the guys for seven months in 2001 while the Giants prepped their next album. Along with firsthand accounts from the Johns, Schnack and producer Shirley Moyers conducted more than 50 interviews with TMBG's friends and admirers, from Jon Stewart, Janeane Garofalo, and Conan O'Brien to musicians like Frank Black. Already a hit in film festivals, Gigantic is a vivid portrait of an enigmatic band that has infiltrated pop culture and even picked up a Grammy for its theme song to Fox's Malcolm in the Middle. Gigantic is a story for and about people who love music.

 
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