Movie Review: “Lambert & Stamp” Is A Brilliant Dynamic Of What A Documentary Should Be

"Lambert & Stamp"
lambert & stamp


A documentary that reveals how the unlikely partnership between aspiring filmmakers Chris Stamp and Kit Lambert produced one of the greatest rock bands in history: The Who.

You’d probably have to be a pretty big music nerd to understand at first glance why anyone might get excited for a tell-all movie about The Who’s managers. Why focus on the suits when one of the most momentous acts the world has ever seen is right there? For all The Who’s flamboyance and rock-god excess, the more fascinating story behind them is that of Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp, the two aspiring filmmakers who signed Townsend, Daltry, & Co., put them on the map, and then proceeded to have a dramatic rise-and-flameout of their own to rival any band’s.

James D. Cooper’s impeccably directed debut gave me an intimate evening, a virtual time machine back to when Lambert and Stamp first met and began their film project. Editing back and forth between current interview and news footage, and original film stock from Lambert and Stamps’ movie project, I found myself immersed in the culture and music movement of the 60’s and 70’s with a 20/20 hindsight perspective of what happened and why it did or didn’t work.

Lambert was the wealthy, gay scion of an artistic family, fond of eccentricity and adventure — he had just endured a narrow escape from Amazon tribesmen and Brazilian cops while working on a photo shoot, when he connected with backstage ballet assistant Stamp. The two film nerds, in love with the burgeoning French New Wave, had the bright idea of making a movie about a band. But where to find the band? Enter a group of novice, clueless, but supremely talented kids calling themselves High Numbers, soon to become The Who.

Anyone can tell you the story of the band, how they made music history. The movie “Lambert & Stamp” lets you see how absolutely random and lucky the band was to have two visionaries pick them to make a film about. We are taken through the process of Lambert and Stamp just wanting to make a documentary about a music movement, to realizing that they could produce and manage this amazing band, and make them into icons.

It truly surprised me how much of the success that The Who and Lambert and Stamp was luck. In interview footage, Stamp flat out says that most of the time they didn’t know what they were doing, but rather just winging it. Sometimes being extremely creative is enough – at least for a while.

The story telling is raw, vivid and real. Nothing is sugar coated as to why the duo of Lambert and Stamp dissolved. Drugs and alcohol were a major contributor to the producer’s life disasters and the band’s.

This film will absolutely delight any music lover, but will also be the “must see” movie for anyone who studies human cultural history. “Lambert & Stamp” holds up a spotlight of what civilization was like throughout the life of The Who. I left the theatre wondering if the music shaped the culture more, or the other way around.

At the Angelika Film Center in Dallas May 8th


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