Telstar (Telstar: The Joe Meek Story) (2009)
Critics Consensus: Nick Moran's excellent portrait of an often forgotten pop legend is as eccentric and chaotic as its subject.
No Top Critics Tomatometer score yet...
Adapted from Nick Moran and James Hicks' critically-lauded stage play, Telstar tells the remarkable tale of eccentric, London-based songwriter/producer Joe Meek (Con O'Neill), whose innovative recording techniques ushered in a bold new era of rock 'n' roll in the late 1950s. Tone deaf and musically illiterate, Meek nevertheless had a lifelong obsession with music and a knack for producing. Though Meek's tireless work ethic ensured a tumultuous relationship with his band, his ramshackle, apartment recording studio provided just enough space to record, and experiment with such cutting-edge techniques as sampling and distortion. Meanwhile, his landlady Mrs. Shenton does her best to put up with the racket, and his main backer Major Wilfred Banks (Kevin Spacey) provides the cash to produce such hits as "Be-Bop-A-Lula", " Johnny Remember Me", and, of course, "Telstar". ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi … More
as Joe Meek
as Major Banks
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Critic Reviews for Telstar (Telstar: The Joe Meek Story)
An overlong but fascinating look at the life of a forgotten innovator of early rock'n roll
Nick Moran definitely emphasizes certain characteristics of the idiosyncratic producer over others for affect, but this is still as fascinating portraits in parts.
Even if 'Telstar' can't quite get the measure of its fascinating material, its pluck and ambition prove infectious enough to outweigh its flaws.
Telstar is an embarrassing farrago, an amateurish, incoherent pantomime of a piece, stuffed with interchangeable characters, a sketchy, largely unsympathetic leading role, and - betraying its stage play origins - unspeakably stilted dialogue.
This is Meek's show, and as a wild and hostile central character (the bellowed phrase "F*** off" is never far from his lips) he is likely to fascinate and alienate in equal measure.
Nick Moran's film, based on the stage-play he wrote with James Hicks, is an eccentric, sometimes underpowered but always watchable story about the early-60s prehistory of pop culture.
The Meek they present is closer to being a character in Little Britain than the mysterious, proto-avant-garde sonic scientist revered by legions of contemporary electronic musicians. A little more weirdness would have been very welcome.
O'Neill's performance is spellbinding, with Moran commendably allowing the actor the necessary time and space on the screen to believably cast his darkness upon those around him.
Like Meek himself, Telstar draws you in despite its its imperfections, which don't detract too much from a bold take on an undertold and fascinating story.
It's a solidly-made, enjoyable story that manages to rope in some notable cameos (can anyone spot Jimmy Carr) and shows Moran is a name to watch as a director.
Clumsily plotted and psychologically messy as it is, Moran's pop biopic is a ripe bustle of business, given substance and conviction by well-rooted performances.
Moran's film is not empty nostalgia. It is not The Boat That Rocked. It should be filed alongside Stephen Frears' Joe Orton biopic, Prick Up Your Ears, because its breezy exterior conceals a thoughtful consideration of a strange moment in British pop.
Like Meek's music, it's not much good and definitely not sophisticated, but I enjoyed it.
Telstar is a rambling, chaotic mess that's got missed opportunity written all over it.
Telstar is still an oddly compulsive story of an exuberant mess of a man who played a key role in British pop history.
Nick Moran's directorial debut is, in fact, remarkably light until it nears its tragic climax.
By the film's end we feel we have had too much of a good thing - but since that is what the hero died of, it seems an appropriate sensation to leave us with.
Some nice moments, though not all that convincing in its lament for a great lost talent.
The film lurches uncertainly in tone from frisky nostalgia to fatalistic drama without really getting under the skin of one of the forgotten pioneers of British pop.
Audience Reviews for Telstar (Telstar: The Joe Meek Story)
It took Nick Moran the best part of 12 years to get this made. And the end result's screamingly energetic, wildly uneven, gay as a goose and at times, utter genius. As a Joe Meek biopic, it's perfect.More
In "Telstar," Geoff Goddard(Tom Burke) gets a rude awakening to the music business in 1961 as Major Banks(Kevin Spacey) has little idea that he is a writer when he shows up to work at a chaotic music studio in London. Joe Meek(Con O'Neill) has more important things on his mind like the ambient sound in the bathroom. And then there is Mrs. Shenton(Pam Ferris), his landlady, who wants to know what the black spots in her ceiling are. Meek tells her that it is only rubber cement; so that's alright, then.
With its cool period music, injections of visual panache and intriguing subject, "Telstar" clearly should have been better, but never truly escapes its stage origins, especially in an introductory scene that goes on forever. And the movie lacks any serious point of view, as Goddard comes and goes as he pleases. As far as Meek goes, the movie cannot make up its mind about him. On the one hand, we have somebody who had one, maybe two good ideas(if that), and apparently passed on every band who hit it big in the 60's. But then hindsight is always 20/20. After which, the movie tries to go in the completely opposite direction in the postscript by mentioning how much an innovator he was. So, which was it?
A brilliant exploration of the British music scene in the early 60's and the revolutionary producer Joe Meek. O'Meill is fearless in the role and is the main reason to watch this but he is also supported by the cream of British talent...and Kevin Spacey! The film moves from comic fun to dark tragedy and it helps if you're familiar with the music or some of the great artists the actors are portraying but since this is an era I've always loved I thought the whole thing was great.More
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