"Bananaz" tracks the formation and rising fortunes of Gorillaz, a cartoon character-fronted, hip-hop/alt-pop collective whose overall sound and image are largely the work of polymath musician Damon Albarn and comicstrip artist Jamie Hewlett.

Essentially a straight-up behind-the-music docu, “Bananaz” tracks the formation and rising fortunes of Gorillaz, a cartoon character-fronted, hip-hop/alt-pop collective whose overall sound and image are largely the work of polymath musician Damon Albarn (from Blur) and comicstrip artist Jamie Hewlett (“Tank Girl”). Fans of the platinum-selling supergroup will go duly bananas for “Bananaz,” guaranteeing fruitful ancillary sales, but scruffily shot pic lacks that extra dimension that would ensure theatrical crossover to more general auds outside fests.

Granted seemingly unfettered access to the key players, helmer Ceri Levy, a music-promo director, tracks the group from its formation to the present. Starting in 2000, docu shows how former roommates Albarn and Hewlett combined innovative cartoons and tunes to create Gorillaz and counteract all the “manufactured crap” on the pop scene. Abundant footage shot in recording studios shows how a wide spectrum of producers and musicians collaborate under Albarn’s direction to produce the group’s sound, while Hewlett grapples with animating Gorillaz’s four characters for Web consumption and promos. In time, concert material unspools, alongside footage of Albarn and Hewlett grudgingly working the PR circuit. Tech package, apart from the excellent sound, is adequate.

Bananaz

U.K.

Production

A Gorillaz & Head Film presentation. (International sales: HanWay Films, London.) Produced by Rachel Connors, Ceri Levy. Directed by Ceri Levy.

Crew

Camera (color, mini-DV-to-35mm), Levy; editor, Seb Monk; music, Gorillaz. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (Panorama), Feb. 13, 2008. Running time: 94 MIN.

With

Damon Albarn, Jamie Hewlett, Ibrahim Ferrer, Dennis Hopper.

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