Stoned | The Wild and Wycked World of Brian Jones

 

This was the official website for the 2005 film about Brian Jones called Stoned, also known as The Wild and Wycked World of Brian Jones in the UK.
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Brian Jones was more than just "a Rolling Stone," he was their founding member, in 1962. His blonde hair, ambiguous glamour and obvious talent inspired enormous curiosity, making him the face of the Sixties revolution. In "Stoned," Stephen Woolley charts the rise of the precocious Cheltenham teenager to fame and fulfilment, and then re-creates the nightmare of his chaotic plummet to a mysterious death, drowned in the swimming pool of his secluded country estate.



The film is a cinematic work of historical fiction, taking as its premise the idea that Jones was murdered by Frank Thorogood, a builder who had been hired to renovate and improve Jones's house Cotchford Farm in East Sussex. The film also paints a picture of Jones's use of alcohol and drugs, and his relationships with Anita Pallenberg and Anna Wohlin.

This is the tale of debauched 1960s rock icon, Brian Jones, the charismatic guitarist who co-founded the Rolling Stones but was fired in 1969. A few weeks later he was found dead at the bottom of his swimming pool.

    Rating: R (for drug use, sexuality, nudity and language)
    Genre: Drama
    Directed By: Stephen Woolley
    Written By: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade
    In Theaters: Oct 18, 2005  wide
    On Disc/Streaming: Jul 4, 2006
    Runtime: 97 minutes
    Studio: Screen Media Films

 

Plot Summary:

Brian Jones was the consummate artist, pop star, fashion icon & womanizer. During the seven short years of his glittering rise to stardom and fateful plummet between 1962 - 1969 he became a music legend, creating The Rolling Stones one of the greatest rock and roll bands ever. Having reinvented the Blues, he nonchalantly turned his back on the world of pop and found more pleasure in scoring movies and recording ethnic music in Morocco. This is not a film about one of The Rolling Stones - this is a murder mystery about the death of one of the most talented musicians of the 60's who couldn't or wouldn't write pop songs. Brian Jones was more than just "a Rolling Stone". He was their founding member in 1962. Jones (played by Leo Gregory) was their leader, their visionary, their most gifted musician His blond, ambiguous glamour and obvious talent inspired enormous curiosity.

Brian was the face of the Sixties revolution, resplendent in the sumptuous fabrics and furs, scarves, hats and jewelry with which he fearlessly blurred the distinction between male and female acceptability. A true pied piper of fashion, he daringly led and legions followed. Just a few years later, at the age of 27, Jones was dead in the deep end of his own swimming pool. Officially, he drowned by misadventure under the influence of drink and drugs. Director and Producer Stephen Woolley has spent the last 10 years researching the events surrounding Brian's ill-fated dip on the night of Wednesday July 2, 1969. In "Stoned," Woolley charts the rise of the intelligent Cheltenham teenager who excels in music and girls as wholeheartedly as he resists the disciplines of his grammar school. Moving to London at 19, Jones finds fame and fulfillment as he steers The Rolling Stones to their first great musical successes, but it's a short-lived happiness.

Re-creating the nightmare as it plummets out of control, with the fragile but tempestuous and increasingly unpredictable Jones hounded by the authorities, busted for drugs, embroiled in controversies and indiscriminate sexual encounters, passionately, bizarrely and sometimes violently besotted with his great love Anita Pallenberg (Monet Mazur), who abandons him for Keith (Ben Whishaw), and finally fired by the band he had formed and obsessively nurtured to their coming of age. His final days are played out at Cotchford Farm, Jones' East Sussex country retreat and the former home of Winnie the Pooh author AA Milne, who Brian Jones revered. He shared his idyll with latest flame, Anna Wohlin (Tuva Novotny). Still closely monitored by the Stones' organization, who regarded him as a loose cannon, Brian decides to make some home improvements and on the advice of his road manager Tom Keylock (David Morrissey), he hires Frank Thorogood (Paddy Considine), to carry out the work.

 



 

PRESS

Sex and drugs and Brian Jones

By Robert Sandall
12:01AM GMT 11 Nov 2005

A new film about Brian Jones suggests that the Rolling Stone's mysterious death in 1969 may in fact have been murder - and explores a dark collision of cultures that lay beneath the surface of the carefree '60s. Its director talks to Robert Sandall

It remains one of the great whodunnits - or whodunwhats - of the 1960s. On the night of July 3 1969, Rolling Stone Brian Jones was found face-down in the swimming pool of his home, Cotchford Farm in Sussex. An inquest recorded death by misadventure, "drowning while under the influence of drink and drugs".

At the time this sounded plausible enough, given Jones's gargantuan appetites, depressive tendencies and the fact that he had recently been pushed out of the band he founded. But posterity has begged to differ: a steady trickle of books alleging murder, conspiracy and much else besides has resulted now in a feature film, starring Leo Gregory as Brian Jones. Stoned advances the not unheard but so far unproven view that the hapless ex-Stone was done away with by his disgruntled, one-eyed builder, the late Frank Thorogood, who is played by Paddy Consedine.

Stoned is much more than a celebrity murder flick. It marks the directorial debut of Stephen Woolley, co-founder of Palace Pictures and a producer with impressive form in the area of fictionalised re-enactments of key tales from the '60s. Scandal, about the Profumo affair, and Backbeat, which told the story of Stuart Sutcliffe and the Beatles in Hamburg, both feature prominently on his CV of 45 films. Completing an informal trilogy, Stoned neatly combines Woolley's interest in the social history and seminal pop music of that fabled decade. "It was a great opportunity to look at the 1960s in a different light," he says.

The idea for the movie first came to him in 1993 while he was working on Backbeat. " was only a kid in the 1960s and I grew up believing, as we all did, that the Stones were the real rebels and that the Beatles were more manufactured. Then when I was making Backbeat I realised it wasn't that simple. While Lennon and McCartney were hanging out with mad existentialists in Hamburg, smashed out of their brains, Mick Jagger was still at the LSE! And I saw then that the story of Brian Jones and the Stones was mostly PR."

Woolley's interest in Jones was stimulated by the discovery that Marianne Faithfull had advised her then boyfriend Mick Jagger to base his character in Nic Roeg's 1969 film Performance on Jones, right down to the slightly effeminate lisp. "Brian really epitomised the spirit of the band and of his time," Woolley says, quoting Bill Wyman's line, "No Jones, no Stones." (Before he began filming, Woolley made sure the whole cast watched Performance.)

The mystery surrounding the precise circumstances of Jones's death was "an excuse for 12 years of investigative journalism", and the reason why it took Woolley so long to complete the film. Having bought the rights to a number of books, including Paint It Black, Who Killed Cock Robin?, and the crucial text The Murder of Brian Jones by Jones's last girlfriend Anna Wohlin, Woolley went looking for eyewitnesses. He consulted the policeman in charge of the original inquiry. Then, with the help of private detectives, he tracked down the two women who were with Jones on the night he died, Wohlin, and his nurse Janet Lawson, who vanished after the event, lived abroad for many years and has never been interviewed by the police.

The two women's stories were so similar that Woolley reluctantly discarded conspiracy theories alleging hired assassins, midnight stranglers and the rest. "So many good things happened to the Stones because of Brian's death, but I believe that what happened to him came about because of his relationship with Frank Thorogood."

This is the real nub of the film. "There were two contrasting worlds in the 1960s, the tiny elitist world of Brian Jones, with its sex, drugs and decadence, and the real world, Frank's world, which was still very grey. Frank was very bitter, and jealous of the kids who were reaping the benefits of what he had helped to create. He was one of the forgotten generation who had won the war and survived terrible things, in his case losing an eye. And they'd done it though discipline and self-control. Then along came the 1960s with this 'Let it all hang out' attitude. It was like a red rag to a bull."

In a crucial scene Thorogood finally manages to bed one of the girls hanging around Jones's house, only to be told that she "prefers brain to brawn". For all its period preoccupation with nudity, casual sex and groovy gear - several of the outfits seen in the film were originally owned and worn by Jones and his most famous girlfriend, Anita Pallenberg - Stoned is not a straight hymn of praise to the psychedelic '60s.

It is permeated with Woolley's own hard-won ambivalence.

He grew up loving the Stones' music, but as one of five children who shared the same bedroom in a household with no fridge, no phone and no car, he inhabited Frank's world. His upbringing had little in common with that of Jones, a pampered child from the genteel spa town of Cheltenham. "Brian Jones's character interested me, the way he was always pushing the limits and would try anything. But for most of his adult life he was in no fit state deal with the real world."

Jones was no match either for his former bandmates, who have remained tight-lipped since his death and studiously blanked Woolley's film. "Their attitude seemed to be that this film and Brian Jones didn't exist and that the Stones began after he died in 1969."

The upside of this was that the director didn't have to cede any editorial control - or budget - to Rolling Stones Inc. The downside was that Stoned was able to use only three of the band's songs.

This hasn't endeared the film to the Stones anoraks invited to previews. "Miserable git gets the hump with a bloke from Chichester about his grouting", was one shirty comment posted on the web. 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.

 



 

Review

Stoned': From the Pool of Sex, Drugs & Rock-and-Roll

By Desson Thomson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, April 7, 2006

Its title may ring with pun and promise, but "Stoned" is a flat riff on the short life of Brian Jones, the Rolling Stone who died in his swimming pool on July 3, 1969.

Based on three books about Jones's life (and the supposed 1993 deathbed confession of a household workman), the movie fails to evoke his tragic and colorful history. You'll get the highlights of Jones's life but no sense of what made him special -- or what really haunted him.


For debuting director Stephen Woolley, a longtime producer for Neil Jordan, this is a grand opportunity missed. In his heyday, Jones, of course, was the Stone to Watch, the Carnaby Street mod who kissed the girls and made them pregnant. A brilliant musician who played piano, clarinet, saxophone, guitar, even the dulcimer, he put the bluesy scratch and otherworldly mojo into Stones tunes. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, in the beginning at least, had to share in the limelight.

The sitar in "Paint It Black"? The cuckoolike recorder in "Ruby Tuesday"? All Brian Jones. But for all his brilliance, he was a screw-up -- and drugged up. He passed out at studio sessions, when he showed up at all. He was forbidden to tour the United States because of his drug arrests. He was AWOL, literally and figuratively. It was just a matter of time before they found him floating. He was 27.

Unfortunately, the deepest insight offered by "Stoned" is that Jones (played by Leo Gregory) made a terrible boss. The story centers on Frank Thorogood (Paddy Considine), a building contractor, who's intrigued to be hired by the flamboyant pop icon. Brian lives in a state of constant bacchanalia in his Sussex farmhouse -- once owned by "Winnie the Pooh" author A.A. Milne. Blondes come and go. Grass, cocaine and booze are freely available. And Brian, who welcomes Frank with childlike joy, seems to want to be his friend.

The job description, Frank rapidly discovers, involves more than building garden walls. He finds himself cooking for Brian, driving him to London to pick up girls, and keeping him company when the women are gone. It's fun for a time, but it becomes increasingly edgy. On one occasion, Brian -- always one for mind games -- offers Frank sex with one of his girlfriends if the builder performs 100 push-ups. He orders Frank's crew to dismantle and move a wall they've just built, then tells them to put it back in the original spot. As Brian's relationship with his band deteriorates, so does the bond between him and Frank.

Scripted by Neal Purvis and Robert Wade (whose résumés include three James Bond films), the film succumbs all too often to cliche: the drug-woozy sequences of hedonistic romps in bed and LSD tabs on yanked-out tongues (cue Jefferson Airplane's "White Rabbit"). What these scenes tell us about Jones, other than the external lore of his life, is anyone's guess. If this was all there was to him, why are we watching this?

The movie is no more enlightening about the relationships in Jones's life. His girlfriend Anita Pallenberg (Monet Mazur), who befriends him at a Munich concert in the early 1960s, follows him to Sussex and Marrakech, and plays bondage games upstairs, is supposed to be a significant figure. But we never understand what draws them together. We know what pulls them apart, though. (He starts to hit her a little harder and she doesn't like that -- there's your character growth.) His romance, if that's what you call it, with Anna Wohlin (whose book "The Murder of Brian Jones" is another sourcebook) is even less revelatory.

As for Mick and Keith, they're relegated to the periphery. Played by Luke de Woolfson (Jagger) and Ben Whishaw (Richards), they're reduced to background roles. We see them cooling heels while Brian makes a phone call. There they are again, sitting in a cloud of hookah smoke in Morocco. Occasionally, they speak! Watching this movie, you could be forgiven for thinking they were just the roadies.

Woolley has said in interviews he wanted to make a Brian Jones film, so he did not seek participation or cooperation from the Rolling Stones. Nor, he said, did he license their 1960s-era songs -- for which Jones wasn't credited -- so the few Stones tunes on the soundtrack were recorded by other artists.

British actor Gregory certainly looks the part -- and vamps it up with aplomb. But the screenplay never allows him to be more than one-dimensional. (There's got to be a part for him in the next Austin Powers flick.) Considine, who has shown such versatility in films including "In America," "My Summer of Love" and "Cinderella Man," finds new chords again. As Frank, he's a convincingly tormented outsider, who evolves from enchantment to gloomy disillusionment. But as the only believable person (with the exception of David Morrissey, as Brian's cocky driver and troubleshooter) he's faced with a peculiar conundrum: Among these Rolling Stones, what's the point of gathering moss?

Stoned (103 minutes, at Landmark's E Street Cinema) is not rated; it contains nudity, drug use and profanity.

 

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