Opening 20 Sep 2018
Writing credits: Philipp Jedicke
Chilly Gonzales is a talented and versatile musician who has made a career of surprising his audiences and critics – a true musical chameleon. Born in Montreal in 1972, Chilly Gonzales – whose real name is Jason Beck – first made a name for himself in the Canadian music scene, but really came into his own musically after moving to Germany in the late 1990s. This documentary shows off what an incredibly intense and funny performer Chilly is, and it’s a carefully crafted collaboration between the musician and first-time director Philipp Jedicke. Chilly, aka Gonzo, is the master of witty, irreverent lyrics, and the movie delivers plenty of humorous entertainment while always keeping Beck’s “real” self carefully guarded.
Using interviews with fellow musicians, including Feist, Peaches, and Jarvis Cocker, the movie shows how hard Chilly has worked over the decades to establish himself as a popular musician, first as a hip-hop artist and then as a classical pianist. There’s plenty of archival footage to show the range of Chilly’s musical abilities, with performances from grungy Berlin clubs to Europe’s most famous symphony halls. Shut Up and Play the Piano plays up (a seeming one-way) rivalry between Chilly and his brother, Christophe Beck, who is a successful film score composer, in a tongue-in-cheek manner: Chilly expresses envy and disdain for his brother’s commercial success in a way that makes it clear how important success is to Gonzo himself. Even if you’ve never heard of Chilly Gonzales, or think you dislike hip hop music, this documentary won’t disappoint. And if you love the movie, then you’re in luck: Gonzo’s newest album, Solo Piano III, comes out in early September and he’ll be in Hamburg for a concert at the Laeiszhalle in December. (Diana Schnelle)