Feb 2, 2019
We’re here live from the remnants of the Fyre Festival. I’m circling right now in the One Movie Punch helicopter, surveying the damage. I’ll let you all in on a little secret. I sent Shane off to do some investigative reporting on the Fyre Festival, because all this hype about both documentaries needed some serious research. So, I sent in our most qualified expert, because reasons, and he’s finally back. Of course, he was supposed to turn in a review for “Solo” two weeks ago, but once you hear his tale, you’ll know why there was such a delay. He’s also a bit addled, right Shane?
Fire. Or you can just really enjoy the hell of no power. A bunch of social media influencers. Fire. A metacommentary with no end. No lights. Beach bod. And no food… Fire. Seriously, fire Ja Rule, nobody knows what he’s doing.
Yes, well. Good. I’ll need to give him a few home assignments after this one, I can tell. Welcome back Shane Hyde, now a semi-regular contributor! You can hear his previous reviews for “Event Horizon” (Episode #254) and “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” (Episode #322). And yes, Shane, I know, I know... I promised you arugula.
Kia ora, I’m Shane Hyde.
Regular listeners will know I don’t have much of an online presence to talk about or promote. So, allow me to tell you a little bit about myself. I’m a kiwi, which should be apparent from my accent. I got to know Joe through an old fan mailing list for the 90s dance band Fluke. We friended up on Facebook and somehow he managed to tolerate my terrible jokes long enough to remain friends over the last number of years. I’m a non-smoker, that’s important. I can throw a pretty mean tomahawk. And my one claim to internet fame was transcribing The Lord of the Rings into |337 speak, that happened around 13 years ago. And I’m not gonna lie, I’m still kinda proud of that one.
Today’s movie is “Fyre” (2019), the Netflix Original and Vice Studios documentary directed by Chris Smith. We get to join Billy as he finances a lifestyle beyond his means by promoting the Fyre Festival in the Bahamas. So, I’m not supposed to be spoiling this film, but it says it right there in the sub-title of the film “The Greatest Party that never Happened”. That’s like saying “Titanic is the greatest ship that never made it across the Atlantic”. So, spoilers aside I think I’m safe from them in this one.
Director Chris Smith assembles what must have been an absolute bucketload of footage taken during all of the location scouting and promotional soirees for “Fyre”. I mean, seriously, did any of these people put the camera down at any point in time? Because we get a really candid and detailed look at the party that took place before the party took place. And all this becomes a factor in the slightly meta commentary of the film, giving us unprecedented access to the how and why, by the virtue of the what. And ultimately it becomes not just an indictment of our streamed and streaming lives, but documentary evidence for us to ghoulishly enjoy in perpetuity.
The film itself whips the carpet from out underneath your feet. What starts as a slightly uncomfortable focus on scantily clad models grows relentlessly into a case of real world, cringe-worthy hubris. Admittedly, there are moments in there where caught myself thinking “okay, let’s give the models a break”, but they’re there as the window-dressing on our protagonists lifestyle. This is Billy, the main focus. And this is not without a sense of schadenfreude, either, because don't we all love it when those younger, prettier, wealthier and more influential come a little close to the sun? No? Whoooo. That's just me then; this is awkward.
Now, because it’s a documentary I don’t need to read off a cast list and describe who portrayed what and who they were. Those interviewed were those that were really there. Ja Rule was there, but I really couldn’t put my finger on exactly what it was he was doing. But we do get to watch our protagonist Billy change focus from tech entrepreneur to party guy when he realizes what he has on his hands... and party guy he is. You never see him without a jetski or a brewski throughout the rest of the film until he is completely undone by... you’ll just have to wait and see.
Fyre is as voyeuristic look into a party that is over before it has even begun, with enough schadenfreude to juice up even the most bitter and cynical. And so in summary: I found I really enjoyed Fyre as a documentary. It was well assembled, well researched and well resolved. And as a commentary it speaks to the way our connected lives can spiral well out of our control. I admired Billy McFarland’s relentless optimism, but there were plenty of moments there for him to cut and run, but my feeling is, he was enjoying the influencer life too much to want to bring it to a satisfactory conclusion.
Rotten Tomatoes: 92% (CERTIFIED FRESH)
One Movie Punch: 8.0/10
“Fyre” (2019) is rated TV-MA and is currently streaming on Netflix!