"Stoned," Stephen Wooley‘s biopic of Brian Jones, co-founder of the Rolling Stones, has been getting ink in the UK papers since it premiered at Toronto for various reasons: Wooley who makes his directorial debut with the film, has worked for years as a producer on some fantastic titles, including many of Neil Jordan‘s films; Wooley dares to make some unusual casting choices when it comes to the young Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Jones himself, played by Leo Gregory, a relative unknown; the film is a labor of love that’s been in the works for a reported ten years. But really, the draw is that Wooley worked without the approval of the remaining Rolling Stones (who had kicked Jones out of the band shortly before his death at the rock star-approved age of 27), and that he indulges the theory that Jones, who was found floating in his pool and whose death was at first chalked up to a drug-related accident, was murdered by his handyman, Frank Thorogood (played in the film by Paddy Considine).
At the Telegraph, Robert Sandall talks to Wooley about the film’s long path to production and the tough task of recreating icons:
Other reactions have complained about the skimpy soundtrack, as well as the implausibly well-toned body, and wiggy yellow hair, of Gregory’s Brian Jones. Luke de Woolfson, unrecognisable as Mick Jagger, and a surprisingly wholesome looking Keith Richards, played by Ben Whishaw, have also raised a few eyebrows among the trainspotters.
Woolley is unrepentant. "I didn’t cast lookalikes, or soundalikes. I tried a few and they were terrible actors. I’ve been very careful with the look of this film in terms of clothes and make-up, but it isn’t a documentary. It’s a drama about the haves and the have-nots and what happens when you put them together in an enclosed, claustrophobic space."
At the Telegraph, Louise Jury speaks to Anna Wohlin, Jones’ girlfriend at the time of his death (he most famously dated Anita Pallenberg (played in the film by Monet Mazur), who eventually left him for Keith Richards), who wrote "The Murder of Brian Jones," one of the sources "Stoned" was based on.
[B]oth she and Woolley believe Thorogood’s deathbed confession that he was to blame for the death, not drugs and drink. His relations with Jones had been tense at the time, with rows over bills and his workmanship, and they fear that resentment bubbled over when the men were messing around in the pool.
"I don’t think Frank meant to kill him, because I don’t think he was a killer," she says. "I think it was some sort of horseplay. I think it went too far."
Also at the Independent, Steve Bloomfield surveys Jones’ generally fading in the public mind as well as his lingering, devoted fanbase, focusing on two fans who have devoted their lives to proving Jones was murdered (one of them fantastically say "There was this terrible stigma surrounding Brian. He was described as a drug-induced guitarist, which is like saying Van Gogh was just a painter."). And some unbylined type writes about how Wooley has approached Jones’ life as a fable about class differences.
"Stoned" opens in the UK this Friday and, as far as we can tell, has no US distributor yet. Though we expect it’ll get picked up soon.
+ Sex and drugs and Brian Jones (Telegraph)
+ The real Brian Jones (Independent)
+ Brian Jones: Who killed the Rolling Stones guitarist? (Independent)
+ Stoned: How Brian Jones made Mick and Keith look conventional (Independent)