“The Sparks Brothers,” the new documentary from filmmaker Edgar Wright, goes deep into the enigmatic world of Ron and Russell Mael. The two brothers, now in their 70’s, make up the quirky band Sparks. Most often, Ron plays keyboard with a deadpan expression while Russell is the energetic frontman and singer.
Over the brothers’ 50-year, 25-album career, Sparks has had more commercial success in Europe than the U.S. Some of its fans have assumed the brothers were British, but they grew up in and around Los Angeles.
Fans of the KCRW show Bookworm may know that Sparks wrote and performed that show’s theme song.
Over the years Sparks has developed a cult following. Always original, the group has changed its sound and style many times over a prolific and still active career.
Much like the band he follows in the documentary, Wright is also committed to his creative vision. He’s written and directed original movies including “Shaun of the Dead” and the massive hit “Baby Driver,” along with his upcoming thriller “Last Night in Soho.”
“Sticking to your gut and sticking to your creative beliefs is the only way to really push forward,” Wright says. “Because the thing is, you could make something that you’re really proud of and it not do well. But somehow, the worse version of that is to make something you’re not proud of and it not do well.”
Wright wishes major studios would be willing to take more of a risk on original films, and points out that major franchises like “Star Wars,” “Alien” and “Terminator” all began as original films.
Wright asks, “Why wouldn’t you make one original film for every two IP films? It just makes sense because one of them is going to hit and provide you — even on a cynical business level — one of those original movies is going to give you your next franchise.”
Long before Marvel became a cinematic juggernaut, Wright was tapped to write and direct “Ant-Man.” He ultimately left the project in 2014 when the studio decided to move in a different creative direction.
He talks about that experience and how it led to “Baby Driver” in 2017, which ended up being the biggest hit of his career. Wright also explains how he ended up as an uncredited member of the Resistance in “The Last Jedi” that same year.
And Wright talks about how he’d been saying for years that somebody should do a documentary about Sparks, but it was fellow filmmaker Phil Lord who told Wright that he should make it himself.