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Published: 2017/12/27
by Larson Sutton

Summer 82- When Zappa Came to Sicily

There is something so different about Summer 82- When Zappa Came to Sicily. It’s a music film that manages to capture a variety of colliding experiences and emotions while keeping music both a minor and major player, both at its center and on the outer periphery. The premise is revisiting Frank Zappa’s ill-fated trip to Italy and Sicily 35 years ago that concluded with a riot between audience and police at his concert in an historic soccer stadium. This spectacle serves as the backdrop as well for twin stories of family: Zappa’s search for his ancestors’ old neighborhood and the filmmaker Salvo Cuccia’s own obsession with the artist, how that affected his familial relations, and a recollection of his attempt to attend the disastrous show. It certainly sounds like a lot to fit into a coherent documentary and it is, not to mention the account of the Zappa family returning to the homeland for a reunion, plus wife Gail’s and son Dweezil’s pseudo-forensic examination of the footage from the performance. Yet, Cuccia knits it all tightly together with skill and sensibility. This DVD is for the Zappa fan, certainly, but it can be enjoyed by someone who knows little to nothing about the musician just the same. These are stories of hopeful, then painful journeys; emotional, physical, and musical. They are not limited to a particular audience. Granted the finer points of the Zappa tale may be simply that, but the overarching themes of this very conscious and unique perspective stay consistently intriguing throughout. It’s one of those rare times where problematic events are not prelude to an ultimately happy conclusion, but rather a simple documenting of so many things just not going as planned. Yes, the Zappa family reunion does provide some cheery closure, but only bittersweetly; it was missing the one likely to have enjoyed it the most.

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